Commission reaction to EU Ethics Body: less ambitious than Parliament
The EU Commission replied to Parliament’s position for an independent EU Ethics body and asked all other EU institutions if they want to join. The EU-governments permanent representatives are scheduled to discuss Parliament’s position, Commission’s reply and their own ambitions to join the Ethics Body for the first time on Wednesday 13 April.
What is GOOD in the Commission’s reply?
The EU-Commission confirms its commitment to set up an Ethics Body by an agreement between institutions. Current bodies should be merged into the new one. And the new body should look into jobs that members want to take up after their term in office. Regarding investigations by the Ethics Body, the Commission disagrees with the body entering premises of concerned institutions but it agrees the body should have the right to ask information from Members and their institutions to assess cases.
Where does the Commission DISAGREE with Parliament?
The Commission is hesitant to extend the scope of the Ethics body to include staff. However, it is not opposed in principle. This won’t be acceptable for the Parliament. Eventually, it was the proven conflicts of interests of Commissioner-candidates AND of EU-Commission staff that have shown the need for an ethics body in the first place. For Commissioners-designate it is up to the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee to decide who’s help it asks and it has clearly called for the support by an independent EU Ethics Body.
Revolving doors need to be closed by the end of this term!
It was high time for the Commission to speed up their work towards a legal proposal. We need to close revolving doors during this term and independently enforce existing rules. It’s still too easy for multinationals and lobby firms, even such close to Russia and China, to buy out senior staff with inside knowledge right from their EU positions.
The French presidency must use their role to define a constructive Council position. The French presidency knows from its domestic Ethics Body, the Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la Vie Publique, what advantage independent enforcement can bring. Especially the European Council President and the Council Secretariat’s EU staff should be part of the Ethics Body’s competences.
Parliament’s position: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0396_EN.html
Commission’s reply and letter of Commission to Council: https://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/06/VDL-letter-March.pdf
Greens/EFA legal studies and background papers: https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/campaigns/eu-ethics-body