Daniel Freund

25. April 2024 Transparency

Green success! How we were finally able to enforce independent lobby control in the EU

It’s done! Today, the European Parliament voted by a clear majority in favour of an Ethics Body (301 in favour, 216 against, 26 abstentions). After a long struggle, the lobbying rules in the EU institutions will now finally be monitored and enforced by an independent body. The culture of impunity for ethics violations has (hopefully) finally come to an end. Tireless efforts by us Greens against conservative resistance are paying off. Five years of hard political work in close cooperation with civil society are at last bearing fruit. The newly created Ethics Body – now ratified by the European Parliament and the EU Commission – is a Green success. After an odyssey that began more than 5 years ago.

Why self-control has not worked

The lobbying rules in Brussels are actually quite good. Lobby meetings must be published, declarations of assets must be submitted, side jobs for MEPs in the lobby are prohibited, revolving door changes from the Commission must be authorised during the cooling-off period. And yet, despite these good rules, there have been repeated violations and scandals: top officials from the EU Commission switched to the lobby. A culture of impunity also emerged in the European Parliament and ultimately culminated in the Qatargate corruption scandal. The problem: in all EU institutions, integrity rules were subject to self-regulation. And this self-regulation has consistently failed.

From  Green campaign to reality

Through my experience at Transparency International, I knew how it could work better: With an independent monitoring body to enforce lobbying rules. France had already successfully demonstrated this. That’s why we wrote such an ethics body into our Green Party election manifesto back in 2019. After the Commissioner hearings in 2019, we wrested the promise of an ethics body from Ursula von der Leyen. We drafted and presented our proposal in this Parliament back in 2021 – organising a majority for independent lobby control. Then, nothing happened for far too long. It took way too many scandals for the Commission to even come up with a proposal. And this proposal was – to be honest, simply bad. In the end, it was only the unrelenting pressure from us Greens that ensured that this committee had teeth and was able to deal with the misbehaviour of individuals.

We Greens promised independent lobby control and we have delivered it today.

Vote Green – strengthen democracy in Europe

A few weeks before the European elections, this is our promise to voters: It is worth putting your trust in these democratic European institutions. Today, we are taking the biggest step towards greater transparency since the introduction of the transparency register in the EU in 2011. Today, we are strengthening Europe’s democracy against corruption and illegitimate influence peddling. The close vote at the end shows this: Right up to the end, conservatives in alliance with the far right tried to sabotage this progress on transparency. With a view to the upcoming European elections, this also shows very clearly that only a few votes in the European Parliament make the difference. And every vote in favour of the Greens is a vote for lobby transparency, against corruption and for strengthening democracy. 

I would like to thank you sincerely for your support throughout the past six years over this important project!


EP comment: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20240419IPR20581/parliament-signs-up-for-new-eu-body-for-ethical-standards 

Roll Call Votes on the Ethics Body: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/22b6f24b-6ada-47b6-b281-04dcb415cf7c 

Amendment 22

Sven Simon

on behalf of the EPP Group


Daniel Freund

Interinstitutional Body for Ethical Standards (2024/2008(ACI))

Proposal for a decision Paragraph 1

  1. Rejects the Agreement, since it constitutes an attack on the functioning of the Parliament; calls for the defence of parliamentary independence; questions the independence of the third-party experts referred to in the Agreement; expresses grave concern at the potential chilling effects on the rule of law if this agreement is taken as an example at national level;


Amendment 78

Sven Simon

on behalf of the EPP Group

Report A9-0181/2024

Daniel Freund

Interinstitutional Body for Ethical Standards


Proposal for a decision

Paragraph 10 g (new)


10g. Calls on the Parties to renegotiate the Agreement to ensure that the body deals solely with the harmonisation of standards, and the examination of individual cases is left to each institution;


We Greens promised independent lobby control and we have delivered it today.


35,000 lobbyists are attempting to influence EU laws. Commissioners switch position into the private sector. MPs work as lobbyists on a part-time basis. From my time at Transparency International I know that the EU is still better than the member states in many respects.  However, there is also a need for far more transparency in the EU.