Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed improvements to Parliament’s own rules of procedure adopted today, while criticising conservative MEPs for blocking further steps to tackle conflicts of interest and bring more transparency to its workings.
Speaking after today’s votes in Strasbourg, Ms. Childers, a member of a cross-party group of MEPs working on matters of transparency, integrity and corruption, said:
I supported the outcome reached today after a year and a half’s worth of hard work but critical progress remains blocked by the usual conservative suspects.
“Candidates to the posts of EU Commissioners will in the future be much more tightly scrutinised for conflicts of interest, made all the more necessary by the recent litany of revolving door scandals.
“This was best epitomised by Barroso’s slippery slide from EC President to Goldman Sachs chairman.
“As far as our own house is concerned, we have enhanced the disclosure and updating of MEPs parallel sources of income, banned Members from the outrageous practice of engaging in lobbying activities aimed at their own colleagues and explicitly ask MEPs to refuse to meet unregistered lobbyists.
“I and other colleagues and the staff in our offices have personally abided by such practices for a long time, and have gone even beyond them in terms of the information we publish.
“It is remarkable how many had to be dragged kicking and screaming to agree on modest measures and sometimes mere recommendations.
“The reluctance by Fine Gael’s EPP group to agree on banning MEPs side jobs as lobbyists was particularly galling
“I personally think that most second jobs are outright incompatible with the responsibilities of a parliamentarian. As a lawmaker and citizens’ representative. I would like to see the legislation laying out our statute revisited to that end.
“Revolving door moves once a term in office ends have been a regular source of scandal among EU Commissioners, and we should not hide behind legal technicalities to avoid action amongst our own ranks.
“I tabled a number of such proposals with colleagues across party lines and want to see a much stronger set of sanctions for those who behave inappropriately.
“Unfortunately, others held us hostage to what is literally business as usual to some of them on pain of blocking any progress at all, but we will keep up the pressure.
“If, to put it in NGO activists’ words, MEPs don’t take a long hard look in the mirror, how can we hold EU institutions to account effectively and with a straight face?”