Open letter to the President of the European Parliament, Mr Schulz, and the members of the Conference of Presidents
Whatever emerges as the real reason for Mr. Dalli’s resignation, the Dalli case shows that the Commission urgently needs more rigorous transparency and ethics rules to avoid undue influence. Instead of the current vaguely-worded Code of Conduct and Staff Regulation, the Commission needs clear rules around its contacts with lobbyists, for instance on matters like meetings set up by acquaintances acting as lobby consultants. There is also a need for stricter and mandatory ethics rules for lobbyists, replacing those laid out in the code of conduct connected to the voluntary Transparency Register.
The Dalli case moreover underlines the need for a high-quality, mandatory lobbying transparency register and pro-active transparency on meetings that Commission officials have with lobbyists. It has highlighted just how important it is for information about such meetings to be in the public domain. The review of the Transparency Register, scheduled to start in the coming weeks and months, provides the perfect opportunity to begin the transition from the current weak and voluntary register, towards a mandatory system with far more stringent disclosure requirements.
The Commission has repeatedly rejected calls from MEPs, media and NGOs to answer key questions around the Dalli case. The Commission, moreover, has rejected calls to initiate an overhaul of its current transparency and ethics rules.
1 The European Parliament's role is therefore crucial, both in clarifying the facts behind the Dalli resignation and also in ensuring that the Commission's transparency and ethics rules are improved. We wish to express our strong support for the proposal to establish a Special Parliamentary Committee to look into the Dalli case and to pick out the lessons learned for the future regulation of lobbying and for the prevention of undue influence.
1See for example ALTER-EU’s letter of 5 November and Commission response 6 December 2012, http://www.alter-eu.org/documents/2012/11/lessons-from-dalli-scandal-commission-answer