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Anti-corruption group rounds on EU over lobbying, conflicts of interest and closed-door culture

brussels bureau

Anti-corruption group rounds on EU over lobbying, conflicts of interest and closed-door culture

The European Union has come under serious criticism in a report by the anti-corruption group, Transparency International.

The organisation’s investigation entitled, The EU Integrity System, found lax regulation of lobbying and poor enforcement of the EU’s own ethics rules. But the report reserved its toughest criticism for the European Parliament, complaining of a lack of cooperation with its probe into MEP’s conflicts of interest.

Carl Dolan, Transparency International’s Director said: “Despite the fact that declarations of outside interests and assets are done by MEPs and senior Commission officials, these are not systematically checked at all, these are not systematically verified. And this leaves this EU institutions vulnerable to corruption risks.”

In 2012 the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection resigned after it emerged tens of millions in kickbacks were being paid by the tobacco industry. An indictment, says Transparency, of a system where commercially sensitive decisions are usually taken behind closed doors.

“There are a number of very simple things that EU institutions can do,” says Dolan. “One of the things we are proposing is a policy of transparency by default. That means that all the documents relating to key meetings including this informal behind closed door meetings are made available to the public and not only to those people with privileged access and people well sourced can find out about the law making process.”

Transparency’s report is likely to reinforce a widely held belief, revealed in a recent survey that found 70% of people polled believed corruption was present in EU institutions.

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