17th Mar 2018

Schulz calls for stricter rules for EU commissioners

  • Schulz wants clearer conduct rules for former EU commissioners who now work in the private sector (Photo: European Parliament)

EU parliament chief Martin Schulz wants tougher conduct rules for EU commissioners, but similar efforts in his own assembly are being undermined.

"We should adapt the code of conduct to make it clearer what former EU Commission presidents and EU commissioners are permitted to do," he is quoted as saying by German newspaper Die Welt on Wednesday (14 September).

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Former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has been heavily criticised for taking a job at US bank Goldman Sachs.

But the parliament chief has also been accused of muffling allegations, for instance, that he used parliament resources during his campaign to become the president of the European Commission.

His office has rejected the claims, noting that he had provided a detailed list of his travels and activities in "full transparency".

"In addition the president has voluntarily forfeited his daily parliament allowance during the election campaign," Schulz's office told this website in an email in April.

Before taking up his duties as EU parliament president, Schulz presided over the Socialist S&D group.

Last April, the socialists and centre-right EPP removed demands, in a parliament report, on whether Schulz had chartered private flights in the first six months of the election year.

"It was approved by president Schulz personally," said Green Hungarian MEP Benedek Javor at the time.

In exchange, the socialists agreed to EPP demands to allow MEPs to hold second or even third jobs.

MEPs holding additional jobs in the private sector presents a whole host of thorny conflict of interest issues, especially if they legislate in the same industry in which they work.

The issue arose again earlier this week when MEPs led by the EPP in the constitutional affairs committee, gained backing by their socialist cohorts, to postpone a vote on another report that again demanded an end to second jobs.

Last year, a joint report by three transparency NGOs found that nine MEP held paid positions in companies that lobbied lawmakers.

Among them was French centre-right Rachida Dati, who according to her latest declaration of interest earns more than €10,000 a month as a lawyer.

In May, she received a personal invitiation from Qatar’s foreign ministry to attend the Doha Forum, which included broad issues on security, development, and energy. She attended the forum.

UK conservative Nirj Deva and Danish centre-right MEP Bendt Bendtsen were also highlighted in the report, drafted by the pro-transparency NGOs Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl.

Ethics drive at EU parliament hits a wall

Plans to increase transparency at the European Parliament have been postponed, in a move likely to result in weaker proposals when it goes to a vote.

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

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