The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) will today give evidence to a senior group of MEPs at a hearing(1) in the European Parliament.
The group of MEPs is chaired by European Parliamentary President Jerzy Buzek and is developing a code of conduct for MEPs. The group was set up in the wake of the Sunday Times cash-for-amendments story in March which revealed how at least three MEPs (Adrian Severin, Ernst Strasser and Zoran Thaler) were caught accepting lucrative paid positions in return for agreeing to table amendments to legislation in the parliament.
Paul de Clerck, spokesperson of ALTER-EU who will attend the hearing said: “A large number of Members of the European Parliament combine their position as an MEP with paid side-jobs that involve lobbying and raise 'conflict of interest' questions. This is damaging public trust in the Parliament. The new code of conduct should therefore ban such side-jobs.”
ALTER-EU recommends a ban on paid side jobs for MEPs that involve lobbying EU institutions, a ban on MEPs receiving gifts or other corporate freebies worth over 50 euros, and a new ethics committee with independent experts to police the rules. Also going through the 'revolving door' into lucrative lobby jobs upon leaving office should be a practice of the past.
ALTER-EU's demands for the code of conduct include:
- A ban on MEPs holding paid second jobs which entail lobbying and/or representing third persons' interests, ie. acting as a lawyer or consultant in a paid capacity, or sitting on (advisory) boards of companies;
- Mandatory declarations by MEPs of all financial interests including income, property and share holdings;
- A ban on MEPs receiving gifts worth over 50 euros from outside interests;
- A two-year cooling-off period for ex-MEPs during which they cannot take up lobbying work;
- A well-staffed Ethics Committee of independent, external experts.
1) The hearing with the 10 MEPs strong working group will take place in the European Parliament behind closed doors on May 31, from 18h00 onwards.
Paul de Clerck, +32 (0) 494380959, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) is a coalition of over 175 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.