28th Mar 2023

EU Parliament weakening anti-corruption proposals, say Left

  • Left co-chair MEP Manon Aubry: 'The various different measures that were adopted collectively by the parliament were buried' (Photo: European Parliament)
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Proposals in December to stamp out corruption at the European Parliament have been progressively watered down, according to the Left party.

Manon Aubry, co-president of the group, told reporters in Strasbourg on Tuesday (14 February) that decisions being made behind closed doors aim to bury pro-transparency efforts in the wake of Qatargate.

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  • The group says of the 15 proposals adopted in December, only four have made into the most recent draft (Photo: The Left)

She noted that of the 15 proposals adopted by the plenary last December, only four made their way into an action plan by European Parliament president Roberta Metsola.

"You'll find, for example, a mandatory transparency register. That has been binned," she said.

Other proposals to create a special committee to remedy integrity flaws, a dedicated inquiry into corruption by non-EU states, as well as an anti-corruption vice-president, have also been binned.

A legislative footprint, to enable the general public to better follow the influence of law-making, is also gone. And a separate proposal to prevent former MEPs lobbying for at least 24 months after leaving office has been reduced to six months.

Initial proposals that made it through include financial clarity on MEP side jobs and mandatory registration on events at the EU parliament.

This comes at a time when a pro-business lobby group is seeking permission to take over the European Parliaments' hemicycle in Brussels in November.

An internal European Parliament committee email, seen by EUobserver, says that Eurochambres, which represents over 20 million businesses in Europe, has been allowed to use the hemicycle for its European Parliament of Enterprises event on 14 November.

And it also comes as MEPs seek to vote on resolutions later this week on the setting up of an independent ethics body as well as follow up integrity measures across the EU institutions.

"Are they enough? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. But are they needed? Yes," said Philippe Lamberts, co-presidents of the Greens.

"Apparently there is a majority in this parliament in favour of this ethics body. I sometimes doubt the sincerity of this commitment," he said.

His views were echoed by Stephane Sejourne, who leads the liberal Renew Europe.

"My feeling is that certain political groups are pushing on this issue very half-heartedly," he said.

But he also accused Aubry of trying to drag out the debate as part of a political goal to "tarnish the institution, undermine the European Parliament."

The pressure comes in the wake of alleged influence peddling by Qatar and Morocco, which has landed the former vice-president of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, in pre-trial detention.

Her partner Francesco Giorgi as well as former Italian socialist Antonio Panzeri also remain incarcerated after law enforcement authorities seized some €1.5m in cash.

The political fallout is only likely set to continue, amid promises by the European Parliament to restore its own public image.

It has also increased calls for the European Commission to bring forward a proposal, first announced three years ago, to set up an independent ethics body that spans all three EU institutions.

"It has become clear that a common set of strong ethical standards is needed," Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for transparency, told MEPs on Tuesday.

Jourova said that the commission would bring forward a proposal in the next few weeks.

"The Commission believes that the inter-institutional body should serve to ensure first that we have common clear and high standards of integrity and independence in all European institutions," she said.

She also said all the EU institutions will need a "similar control mechanisms".

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