Thursday

28th Jul 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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue Platform
  2. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  3. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  4. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  5. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  6. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  7. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  8. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  10. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  11. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  12. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company