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We urge the EPP and Renew to vote in favour of longer ‘cooling-off period’ for MEPs and a ban on lobbying-related side jobs

Date

13 Jul 2023

Sections

InfoSociety

Later today, the European Parliament is set to adopt the recommendations of the special committee on foreign interference (INGE), to strengthen the integrity, transparency and accountability of the House.

The S&Ds are calling on the members of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) and liberal Renew Europe (RE) to be much more ambitious and support our amendments.

One of our key amendments is calling for an up to 24-month ‘cooling-off period’ for MEPs at the end of their mandate. The current compromise allows for only a six-month ‘cooling off period’, which the S&Ds find insufficient. The second progressive amendment that will also be put to the vote today urges for a ban on paid side jobs at organisations listed in the EU Transparency Register. MEPs should simply not be able to lobby on behalf of a company while holding a mandate.

Nevertheless, the S&Ds are satisfied that other recommendations adopted by the ING2 special committee go further than President Metsola’s 14-point reform plan. They include inter alia an obligation of asset declaration for all MEPs, before and after the mandate, an obligation to publish all scheduled meetings with third parties, a ban on keeping gifts above €100, as well as a ban on paid side jobs for high-risk third countries.

Andreas Schieder, S&D spokesperson and negotiator in the INGE committee, said ahead of the vote:

“For the last months, the S&Ds have been pushing for an ambitious reform to not only prevent corruption in the future, but also protect the European Parliament from malign foreign influence. Many of the measures that we have agreed on with other political groups so far are very positive. They range from disclosing MEPs' assets to mandatory publication of meetings for MEPs, mandatory transparency rules for trips by MEPs paid by foreign countries, as well as much stricter obligations for organisations wishing to be involved with the European Parliament.

“But let’s be honest, the six-month ‘cooling-off period’ is not enough. We also need much stricter rules to ban inappropriate side income. It must be crystal clear: you can't be a member of the European Parliament and a lobbyist at the same time. Sadly, when it comes to MEPs’ own financial interests, not only the far-right, but also the centre-right and the liberals’ support for ambitious reforms seem to collapse.”

Raphaël Glucksmann, Chair of the INGE committee, said:

“We will never be able to totally eradicate corruption, but what we can and must do is to create a system in which this kind of criminal behaviour does not impact our democratic process. We must profoundly change the rules before the next European elections to make sure that our institutions are more transparent, better protected from foreign interference, and regain people’s trust in the EU and its institutions. We must be clear that our democracy is not for sale.

“Today's vote is important, and at last we will be able to see who is on the side of transparency and integrity of our institutions. We also call for an independent EU ethics body that would control all EU institutions, with real investigative powers. Finally, we impatiently wait for the presentation of the Defence of Democracy package announced by the European Commission. The level of threat is high, and we are less than a year away from the next European elections, so let's do everything we can to protect our democracies.”

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