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15th Dec 2018

Greens demand probe against MEPs on Morocco lobbying

  • A number of MEPs working closely with former state Moroccan ministers have possibly breached code of conduct rules (Photo: European Parliament)

The president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, has been formally asked to probe a possible code of conduct breach by MEPs on Moroccan lobbying.

The request was sent on Tuesday (27 November) by the co-chair of the Greens group, Philippe Lamberts.

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His letter demands Tajani refer the matter to an internal oversight board known as the "advisory committee on the conduct of members".

Lamberts says that information revealed by EUobserver's article, 'Exposed: How Morocco lobbies EU for its Western Sahara Claim', warrants further action against several MEPs, given their close ties to Moroccan politicians.

The article exposed how the MEPs had set up a foundation along with former Moroccan state ministers at the Hill+Knowlton Strategies lobby firm, some 150 metres away from the European Parliament.

The same MEPs are also working on rubber-stamping a controversial EU trade deal with Morocco, set for plenary vote in January.

Three of the MEPs at the foundation had collectively tabled an amendment on the pact.

The foundation, known as EuroMeda, is not listed in the EU's lobby register.

The MEPs set for the internal probe include French socialist Gilles Pargneaux, French liberal Patricia Lalonde, Romanian centre-right Romona Manescu, and Belgian liberal Frederique Ries.

Pargneaux had told this website that the foundation was his idea.

Lalonde is also the lead MEP on drafting the report about the trade deal, whose views will help shape the final parliament position.

EuroMeda had organised events inside the European Parliament, along with a think tank that was bankrolled by Morocco's mining and chemical monopoly, the OCP Group.

"To date, none of the above-mention MEPs appear to have disclosed their involvement in this Foundation within their declarations of financial interests," Lambert said in his letter.

He said the MEPs were required to do so under the parliament's code of conduct rules.

The rules say MEPs must declare their membership of any boards or committees of companies, non-governmental organisations, associations, or other bodies established in law.

Lamberts also noted that Lalonde had not disclosed her relationship with the foundation while speaking at several parliament bodies, including at the international trade committee and the foreign affairs committee.

The code of conduct rules require rapporteurs like Lalonde to disclose, before speaking, "any actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to the matter under consideration."

Lamberts drew the same conclusion on Pargneaux, given his position as a co-author for the EU-Morocco trade report on behalf of the socialist group.

Investigation

Exposed: How Morocco lobbies EU for its Western Sahara claim

The European parliament's lead negotiator on the Morocco trade deal, French liberal MEP Patricia Lalonde, is also on the EuroMedA Foundation board along with former Moroccan state ministers and a top ranking official in Morocco's ministry of agriculture.

Greens boycott EU-Morocco vote after lobbying expose

EUobserver has exposed Moroccan lobbying at the European Parliament, prompting a probe to be launched against several MEPs. The Greens have now decided to boycott next week's Morocco trade vote in protest, saying the lobbying investigation must be finished first.

EU aviation agreement with Morocco in legal hot water

The European Commission is struggling to respond to questions on how it can include the disputed territory of the Western Sahara into its aviation agreement with Morocco - following a recent order from the General Court of the European Union.

Lead MEP on Morocco resigns as her report passes

MEPs ultimately adopted a controversial report on an EU trade deal with Morocco - despite the sudden resignation by French liberal Patricia Lalonde as the file's rapporteur only moments beforehand. Her departure follows an EUobserver investigation into lobbying by Morocco.

Razor-edge victory for more lobbying transparency at EP

New rules to force MEPs chairing committees or drafting reports to publish meetings with registered lobbyists took a step closer to reality. The measure was narrowly backed 11 to 10 at the constitutional affairs committee but still needs plenary approval.

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