Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed the approval of a set of improved transparency demands in EU decision making, while criticising Fine Gael’s EPP grouping for refusing to endorse them.
Ms. Childers was in charge of steering input into this EU Parliament position from an environment and public health angle, in the respective committee.
Her focus was on safeguarding the public interest against regulatory capture by large corporations.
The Dublin MEP pushed for stricter rules to prevent conflicts of interest in expert advisory boards that support the Commission’s legislative and policy work as well as scientific panels in specialised agencies, such as the European Food Safety Authority or the European Medicines Agency.
The dealings between public authorities and the tobacco industry are another issue of continued concern for Ms. Childers, who wants all EU institutions, including the European Parliament, to abide by the best international standards, so as to shield public health policy from the commercial interests of the tobacco lobby.
Speaking after this week’s vote in the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, Ms. Childers said:
“We have made some significant progress on a file that was stalled by the conservative side of our house and eventually rejected by them, even if they failed to muster a majority to block it.
“Parliament has committed to a legislative footprint system, which allows the public to see which interests lobbied the decision maker on each piece of draft legislation.
“Sadly, the bulk of conservatives, led by Fine Gael’s EPP, managed to amend our proposals to keep former MEPs off the hook when it comes to cooling off and disclosure of the corporate jobs they land through the revolving door after their mandates expire.
“We keep throwing stones at the Commission on this front but refuse to replace the glass ceiling over our house. This robs us of much needed moral authority to keep on pressing for accountability and integrity in the EU institutions.
“Worst of all was the unedifying hijacking of this file by Fine Gael’s EPP grouping with amendments proposing that NGOs be denied EU funding when they oppose the EU institutions line, which was thankfully quashed.
“I wonder whether this was just a cynical excuse for them to vote against the whole set of proposals, or whether the world view of their Hungarian sister party, Orban’s Fidesz, is rubbing off on Fine Gael’s EPP group.”