European Parliament reforms will not prevent future Qatargates

Today’s vote in the European Parliament for more transparency on MEP activity is a step forward, but it is not enough for a fully independent and accountable Parliament.  

Following Qatargate, it was imperative for the European Parliament to adopt stricter internal rules. However, politicians’ loud declarations about fighting corruption and the adopted resolutions setting stronger ethics standards are not properly reflected in a report adopted today on new rules of procedure. 

The Left has been pushing to ban paid side jobs for MEPs, but the Right rejected the proposal.

The new rules of procedure for the Parliament now include:

  • A reformed Advisory Committee that will be composed of five MEPs and three experts, where only members can vote; 
  • MEPs will have to file a declaration of assets;
  • All MEPs and their assistants will now have to declare meetings with lobbyists. 

Left MEP Helmut Scholz (Die Linke, Germany) commented on the vote:

“Today’s adoption of this report is a first crucial step towards regaining the trust of citizens. Of utmost importance in these changes to the rules of procedure is the clear commitment to increased transparency, in particular by improving the Code of Conduct. The final result has practically banned logistical support for most so-called “friendship groups” and formalised a cooling-off period of six months for former MEPs. But this cannot be the end of Parliament’s undertaking to hold its own Members accountable. Adopting this report should be considered the bare minimum! The Left tabled several amendments to increase MEP accountability by, for example, banning paid side-jobs or increasing the cooling-off period to two years. It was the right-wing bloc that successfully managed to resist this push for deeper reform.” 

Co-president of the Left in the European Parliament Manon Aubry (La France Insoumise) said: 

“The Left has championed this reform from the start and secured some improvements, such as the mandatory publication of meetings for all Members and their assistants. But let’s face it: this reform will not prevent future Qatargates. Out of almost 40 reforms promised through Parliament’s resolutions and reports, at best, a quarter have been implemented. Members can still be paid by companies as lawyers and consultants. There is still a long way to go to live up to the promises of integrity made to European citizens since Qatargate.”

 

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