27th Oct 2016

Three EU agencies fail MEPs' ethics test

  • Macovei: 'The people in question should resign' (Photo: Thomas Hawk)

MEPs in the budgetary control committee looking at the accounts of EU institutions on Tuesday (27 March) suspended the procedure for three agencies whose staff is said to be too close to the industry they deal with.

The food safety, medicines and environment agencies were given three months' time to publish all the CVs of their staff and experts in order to expose any potential conflicts of interest.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I am very happy conflicts of interest are being taken seriously by this parliament, because they can be a cause for fraud and corruption," said Romanian centre-right MEP Monica Macovei, a former justice minister and anti-corruption campaigner in Romania, who drafted the parliament's position on the agencies.

She singled out food industry lobbyists being hired by the food safety agency in Italy, the head of the environment agency in Copenhagen paying out some €33,000 to an NGO for "staff training" in the Caribbean while she was a member of the NGO's advisory board, as well as the former head of the medicine agency switching to one of the pharma companies it had been issuing standards for.

Macovei said the argument used by many agencies - that expertise is hard to find outside the industry - is insufficient. "If you hire someone from Boeing, you can't let them run aviation safety tests on Boeing planes," she said.

"I went to the food safety authority and they said: 'We do check, trust us, we just don't make it public.' No, that is not the point, it should be public," Macovei said, noting that data privacy should not apply to publicly-funded officials or experts disclosing where they used to work.

If the European Parliament in its entirety confirms the vote in May, the three agencies will not be able to close off their accounts for 2010.

"The people in question should resign," Macovei said.

MEPs also unanimously decided to postpone signing off the accounts of the Council of ministers - a routine exercise repeated almost every year.

The symbolic move aims at persuading the council to scrap a 'gentleman's' agreement' dating back to 1970 that the two institutions will not meddle in one other's accounts.

EU myth-busters set for budget upgrade

One year after its launch, East Stratcom, the EU’s “tiny” counter-propaganda cell, has created a 20,000-strong following and could get a €1 million budget.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ANCI LazioAnci Lazio Definetely has a lot to Celebrate This Year
  2. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  3. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  4. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  5. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  6. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  7. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  8. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  9. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  10. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  11. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  12. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum

Latest News

  1. Greece to probe UN allegations of illegal returns
  2. Poland defies EU on rule of law
  3. Belgium breaks Ceta deadlock
  4. Left MEPs thwarting Dieselgate probe, say right MEPs
  5. Cars should be allowed to exceed emissions limits, say experts
  6. EU case against Google is bad for developers
  7. Privacy activists mount court challenge to EU-US data pact
  8. Thousands of Nato soldiers go to Baltic states, Romania