Wednesday

4th May 2016

EU parliament reconsiders code of conduct loophole

  • European Parliament reviews code of conduct loophole on hotel and transport for MEPs paid by lobbyists (Photo: wikipedia)

The European Parliament on Wednesday (27 June) reverted a controversial decision on the code of conduct for MEPs.

The loophole enabled lobbyists to fund MEPs' non-business-class flights and to pay for hotel accommodation of up to €300 a day without disclosure.

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But EU parliament president Martin Schulz told his administrative chiefs (quaestors) on Wednesday evening to come up with a different plan.

The administrators, which deal with the internal affairs of MEPs, had originally advised the European Parliament in April to insert the €300 threshold into the code.

The parliament's bureau (vice-presidents and the president) agreed and adopted the threshold, but the decision caused uproar among a number of MEPs from the centre-left and left as well as pro-transparency groups and NGOs.

Several MEPs, including Luxembourgish Green MEP Claude Turmes and Dutch left-wing MEP Dennis de Jong, told this website on 19 June they would attempt to place the code into next week's parliament session in Strasbourg.

But parliamentary rules of procedure prevented them from even getting the issue onto the Strasbourg agenda.

An assistant for De Jong told EUobserver that Wednesday's decision was a welcome surprise. Left wing German MEP Gabrielle Zimmer also praised Schulz's move.

The administrators will now have to review their original proposal and present a new version to the bureau.

Several MEPs have already announced they would attempt to call for a debate about the changes being proposed to the code of conduct in a future plenary agenda should the administrators refuse to budge.

The code of conduct was adopted in December 2011 following a series of MEP scandals involving Austria's Ernst Strasser, Romania's Adrian Severin and Zoran Thaler of Slovenia.

All three had accepted offers of up to €100,000 per year in exchange for tabling amendments on legislation in the EU assembly.

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