Members of the European Parliament will from now on have to declare financial and other interests after the assembly voted unanimously in favour of a so-called Code of Conduct. The motion was introduced after an earlier scandal, and many feel it is long overdue.
Spanish MEP Enrique Guerro said: “It’ll be more effective if we oblige members to declare their activities, their interests, to declare when they have a relationship with lobby groups, to not accept any kind of contribution for their work, that there’s a set of sanctions to ensure they don’t do it.”
Italian MEP, Carlo Casini added: “A lack of transparency in our behavior is a problem of conscience and there is no law that can stop it if there isn’t this high sense of duty”
While the parliament appears determined to clamp done on any conflict of interest, some campaigners think more could be done.
Jana Mittermaier of Transparency International said: “At the moment the Code of Conduct doesn’t include a cooling-off period for members of the European parliament. That means once they leave office they can move into lobby jobs that create a conflict of interrest for them. Furthermore, we are bit concerned about the fact that there aren’t as strong sanctions as we would have liked to see, and that second jobs are still possible for members of the European parliament.”
The drive for regulation of MEP’s external activities gathered momentum after a lobbying scandal involving several members erupted earlier this year. Two of them resigned over the affair. The parliament is carrying out its own investigation.
Our correspondent in Brussels, Raquel Alvarez said: “Parliament’s overwhelming backing for this code of conduct was given even before the detailed content was known. It’s difficult to imagine an MEP who earns more than 6,000 euros a month, plus another 4,000 for other daily allowances, and monthly expenses, being able to defend the necessity of extra earnings and gifts, particularly in this time of economic crisis.”