Thursday

23rd May 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"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 agency under scrutiny for Caribbean trips

MEPs have questioned why the EU environment agency held staff training in the Caribbean and Mediterranean and spent €300,000 on decorating its headquarters with plants.

MEPs divided on whether to punish EU agencies

MEPs are getting ready to vote on whether to punish three EU agencies for using public money for questionable purposes and for tolerating conflicts of interest.

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us