4 ALTER-EU groups send letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz about MEP Jean-Luc Dehaene's undeclared stock options

Publication date: 
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory, LobbyControl, SpinWatch

Several Belgian media reported that MEP Dehaene is allowed to exert stock options granted by AB InBev, potentially amounting to around 3 million Euro. We are surprised to notice that those stock options are nowhere reported in Mr Dehaene’s current declaration of interest, despite the very clear obligations regarding declaration of outside interests.

Open letter to European Parliament's President Martin Schulz about MEP Deheane's potential conflict of interest

Executive summary / policy recommendations: 

Our concerns are twofold.

Firstly, we believe that Mr Dehaene holding stock options, and being allowed to exert them, while being an MEP presents a risk of potential conflict of interest. This is in direct contradiction with the Code of Conduct. Article 1(b) states that MEPs must “act solely in the public interest and refrain from obtaining or seeking to obtain any direct or indirect financial benefit or other reward”, while article 3(1) clarifies that “a conflict of interest exists where a Member of the European Parliament has a personal interest that could improperly influence the performance of his or her duties as a Member. A conflict of interest does not exist where a Member benefits only as a member of the general public or of a broad class of persons”.

Secondly, according to the new rules, Mr Dehaene should make full transparency about his interests outside of his MEP mandate, in particular in this case where his holdings could influence his behaviour when sitting in office. All his shares and outside revenues should be mentioned in his declaration of interest. However this is currently not the case, which seems to be a clear breach of the rules set forth by the code of conduct.

We are writing to you in order to ask you to carefully look into this case.

In particular:

- How will the parliamentary authorities ensure that Mr Dehaene fully complies with the new rules on declaration of MEPs’ outside interests?

- In the context of his MEP mandate, Mr Dehaene might be called to vote on regulations affecting the brewery sector, as part of the European food and drink industry. He is likely to find himself in situations where he will be regulating a sector in which he has direct financial interests. How will the parliamentary authorities guarantee that proper safeguards are put in place to avoid potential situations of conflict of interest in this particular case?