Saturday

13th Aug 2022

MEPs threaten to block commission funding over transparency

MEPs are threatening to block €2 million in EU funding for expert groups unless the European Commission can guarantee more transparency.

The expert groups, selected by the commission, act as inside advisors to help it draw up EU legislative proposals and policy initiatives. But how they are selected and the interests they represent have drawn wide-spread criticism from pro-transparency groups and some MEPs.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The EU parliament earlier this year clashed with the commission over access to internal documents (Photo: Christoph Diewald)

British centre-left Michael Cashman, Dutch left-wing Dennis de Jong, and German Green Helga Trupel were among the handful of deputies who met European Commission representatives on Wednesday (5 September) to discuss the issue.

The Parliament’s budget committee was scheduled to vote to either lift or block the reserve on Thursday but decided to postpone the vote until 19 September.

“It gives us more time to put down in writing what we had agreed with the commission today. I think the commission is really engaged but if it doesn't materialise we'll block the funds," said de Jong.

The European Parliament says it will not release the funds unless the commission meets a number of conditions, including banning lobbyists and corporate executives from sitting in the groups.

The parliament is also insisting that groups are not dominated by a single interest category, such as big business.

The commission, for its part, has acknowledged outstanding issues among the groups that could give rise to a conflict of interest.

It identified 18 of its groups over the summer that include people who "are representatives of stakeholders" and do not represent the interests of the public.

The commission has also noted that some of the stakeholders, or lobbyists, had given misleading statements when joining the groups by claiming they were "experts in a personal capacity" when they were representing third parties.

The commission has not revealed the identities of the groups but the Brussels-based pro-transparency group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) claims the European design leadership board and the Raw Materials Supply Group are among them.

The commission said it published all relevant documents linked to the expert groups in April. But CEO disagrees.

"Agendas and minutes for most groups are not available through the register and most of the time not available at all," it wrote in a letter to MEPs.

Corporate interests continue to dominate around 100 expert groups, says the NGO.

Over 30 of the 89 groups linked to the commission's DG enterprise, for instance, are almost entirely composed of people representing corporations.

The department, which works on research, international trade, consumer, environmental and internal market policy issues, partially relies on 482 people from big corporations to help it draw up policy.

An additional 255 people from non-government categories like independent professionals, academics and civil society also advise the DG, says CEO.

MEPs not serious about transparency

From frivolous responses, illegible scrawls, to no answers at all, several members of the European Parliament are not serious when it comes to declaring their financial interests, a survey carried out by an NGO has shown.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us