Daniel Freund

16. February 2023 Anti-Corruption

Ethics Body: Commission bows to pressure from European Parliament, promises draft in March

A draft of the EU Commission for an independent ethics body is to be presented in March 2023. This was promised by Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova on Tuesday (14.02.) in the European Parliament in response to my question. However, Jourova hinted that the proposal would not meet the demands of the Parliament and that the Commission did not want to replace the current self-regulation of politicians with independent experts. The Commission wants to maintain the self-control and only supplement it with an additional body. Moreover, the body could be delayed even further if the EU Commission insists that other EU institutions besides the Commission and the Parliament must be ‘founding members’ of the ethics body.


Today, Thursday (16.02.), the European Parliament called for a strong proposal for an EU ethics body in a resolution (338 yes, 72 no, 76 abstentions), building on the Parliament’s September 2021 report. This includes:

  • concrete cases of rule-breaking or revolving doors into lobbying must be investigated
  • the body must also be able to act on its own initiative
  • the body must be established at least for the Parliament and the Commission without waiting for the slowest institution to act
  • Parliament’s negotiators must be appointed as soon as possible
  • the hitherto unclear ban on lobby jobs should be concretised to include all paid work for organisations in the area of the lobby register

For the first time, besides the Greens, the Left, the Social Democrats and the Liberals, the majority of the Christian Democrats also voted in favour of the EU ethics body.


MEP Daniel Freund (Greens), the European Parliament’s rapporteur for an independent EU ethics body, comments:

“The system of self-regulation in the EU institutions is not working. We need independent control and enforcement of the rules of conduct. Ursula von der Leyen promised this 3.5 years ago. She has not delivered. It is high time. We expect the Commission to start negotiations in March and to be able to reach the goal by the summer. We will not tolerate delaying tactics by waiting for the slowest institution. The EU ethics body must have teeth. Self-regulation must be replaced, not supplemented by an advisory body. At least for Parliament and Commission, concrete rule-breaking and revolving doors must be investigated to deter corruption.”


Resolution for the ethics body: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/RC-9-2023-0144_EN.html 


Twitter-Thread how self-control in Commission and Parliament failed detecting Qatargate, why focusing on NGOs is wrong and why it needs the Ethics Body: https://twitter.com/daniel_freund/status/1625144072120725511?s=61&t=bazUModyeSzTe0ZaHQUjhQ 


Speech by Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova: https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/video/establishment-of-an-independent-eu-ethics-body-closing-statements-by-jessika-roswall-swedish-minister-for-eu-affairs-and-by-vera-jourova-vice-president-of-the-european-commission-in-charge-of-values-and-transparency_I236709 


Resolution on the follow-up of the actions for more integrity in the EU institutions: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/RC-9-2023-0147_EN.html 

The EU ethics body must have teeth. Self-regulation must be replaced, not supplemented by an advisory body.