Madrid, 1 April 2015 – The Alliance for Lobby Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU), of which Access Info Europe is a Steering Committee member, has launched Navigating the lobby labyrinth: A guide to transparency and ethics for MEPs along with Ten policy recommendations for a strengthened MEP Code of Conduct.
Guide for MEPs
The guide is intended to help MEPs put into practice their commitment to transparency and fulfil their obligations to be receptive to public opinion, open to public scrutiny, and fully independent in order to defend the public interest.
The guide also offers practical advice for MEPs on how to navigate the Brussels bubble while maintaining their independence and integrity.
With respect to transparency around meetings with interest groups, the Guide recommends that MEPS promptly publish lists of meetings held and do not meet with lobbyists who refuse to be transparent.
Given that individual MEPs are currently not covered by the EU’s access to documents regulation, the Guide recommends that, in keeping with the spirit of the right to documents in the EU treaties, MEPs respond to requests for access to documents.
Ten Policy Recommendations
During a public debate held on 31 March 2015 in the European Parliament, where MEPs Nessa Childers, Richard Corbett and Sven Giegold all advocated strengthening ethics rules for MEPs, the ALTER-EU coalition presented Ten policy recommendations for a strengthened MEP Code of Conduct.
Key demands include a ban on MEPs holding side jobs with companies or groups that are involved in EU lobbying, as well as address the lack of transparency rules for European Parliament cross-party groups.
ALTER-EU also recommends tighter disclosure requirements for outside financial interests; a strengthened ethics advisory committee; and stronger sanctions for violations of the rules.
Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe, email: firstname.lastname@example.org mobile:+32 (0)494 380959
Nina Katzemich, LobbyControl, email@example.com mobile: +49 (0)179 5093022
Pam Bartlett Quintanilla, Access Info Europe, email: firstname.lastname@example.org mobile: +34 699354215
Notes Four years after the 2011 ‘cash for amendments’ scandal in the European Parliament, and three years after the adoption of the Code of Conduct for MEPs, ALTER-EU believes that it is time for a review of the rules for MEPs to ensure that conflicts of interest and undue influence are avoided.
The recent ‘cash for access’ scandal in the UK, which showed how UK Member of Parliament Jack Straw lobbied the European Commission to change EU sugar trading rules on behalf of a lobby consultancy firm, has also highlighted the need for improvements to ethics rules for elected representatives at both the national and EU levels.
See, for example: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/investigations/11428077/Ex-ministers-Jack-Straw-and-Sir-Malcolm-Rifkind-brag-to-business-about-their-political-contacts.html and http://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2015/02/stopping-next-cash-access-lobby-scandal