ALTER-EU: Task force must ban MEPs from taking industry jobs on the side

Publication date: 
Monday, April 11, 2011
Press release issued by: 
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU)

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) has today written to the ten members of the European Parliament's new working group on ethics and transparency reforms following the ‘cash-for-influence’ scandal.

ALTER-EU is calling on the MEPs in the group [1], led by Parliament president Buzek, to act with courage and determination to develop ambitious reforms to solve once and for all the problems revealed by the scandal. The coalition has presented a nine-point reform proposal, including stricter rules on MEPs taking second jobs, mandatory lobby transparency rules, and a cooling-off period for MEPs moving into lobbying jobs.

The scandal, resulting from a 'sting' by the Sunday Times newspaper involves four MEPs who were prepared to accept payments in return for tabling amendments in the European Parliament [2]. Disgraced MEPs Strasser and Severin held numerous second jobs which they had declared in the Parliament's register of financial interests. Austrian MEP Strasser was the most extreme example and was actively lobbying for industry clients of various consultancy firms. Dozens of MEPs currently hold second jobs that could lead to conflicts of interest.

Olivier Hoedeman, spokesperson for ALTER-EU: “It is unacceptable that MEPs are on the payroll of industry, European citizens must be guaranteed that MEPs are working solely to represent their voters. Second jobs can easily lead to conflicts of interest and should be curbed."

ALTER-EU calls for a ban on all jobs that involve lobbying or which in other ways can lead to conflict of interests.

Speaking for ALTER-EU, Paul de Clerck said: "We agree with President Buzek that a mandatory lobby register is needed, he should pressure the European Commission to agree to that. Now that the MEP task force is developing new and more ambitious transparency rules, the ongoing process to approve a new voluntary joint register of Commission and Parliament should be suspended. If the Commission is unwilling, the Parliament should develop unilateral steps to make the register mandatory and with comprehensive and reliable information about EU lobbying."

ALTER-EU recommends – as part of a new code of conduct for MEPs – strict disclosure requirements that cover all direct or indirect financial interests of MEPs [3]. Upon ending their term in the European Parliament MEPs should be barred from accepting any employment that involves lobbying or lobby advice targeting EU decision-making for a significant period.


For more information, please contact:

Olivier Hoedeman, +32 (0) 47448645,

Paul de Clerck, +32 (0) 494380959,

Nina Katzemich, LobbyControl (DE, EN) Tel: +49(0)221/1696507, +49(0)179/5093022,

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) is a coalition of over 160 civil society groups, trade unions, academics and public affairs firms concerned with the increasing influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe, the resulting loss of democracy in EU decision-making and the postponement, weakening, or blockage even, of urgently needed progress on social, environmental and consumer-protection reforms. 


[1] The ad hoc working group will be led by Mr BUZEK Jerzy (EPP), president of the EP, and will further include Mr VIDAL-QUADRAS Alejo (EPP), Mr WEBER Manfred (EPP), Ms BADIA I CUTCHET Maria (S&D), Mr LAMBRINIDIS Stavros (S&D), Ms WALLIS Diana (ADLE), Mr TURMES Claude (Greens/EFA), Mr ZAHRADIL Jan (ECR), Mr de JONG Cornelis (GUE/NGL), Mr SPERONI Francesco (EFD).