SP: ‘Stop lobbying by ex-Commissioners'

24 September 2010

SP: ‘Stop lobbying by ex-Commissioners'

Lobbying by former European Commissioners must be stopped. Existing rules must be adhered to, and tightened up. This was the reaction of SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel and Euro-MP Dennis de Jong to the news that six former European Commissioners now work for firms involved in the sectors for which they were responsible. “When ex-Commissioners make knowledge acquired in their former function immediately available, the risk that confidential information will be leaked is enormous," Van Bommel points out. "This is a matter involving a conflict of interests. The corporate lobby, which is already strong enough and lacks transparency, gains in this way so many opportunities to thwart the democratic process, chances which we shouldn't be extending."

Dennis de Jong

SP-Euro-MP Dennis de Jong last year presented a ten-point plan of action for transparency in lobbying. "That it has emerged today that these ex-Commissioners aren't following the rules underlines once again the fact that swift action must be taken by the European Commission, so I'll be immediately bringing my proposals to the Commission's attention.”

While profiting from their experience, former Commissioners continue to be able to claim an unemployment benefit which can amount to €11,000 per month. “Now that the EU is pressuring member states to cut spending," says Van Bommel, "this is hard to explain. It's clear that these ex-Commissioners have no trouble finding employment. The rules must be tightened up."

The European Commission is currently engaged in revising its own code of conduct. Van Bommel has asked Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, in a written parliamentary question, to take speedy action to ensure that the rules are tightened up. De Jong has put the same question to the Commission itself.

Next month the European Parliament, on an initiative from the SP and others, will hold a meeting with the European Commission on how to increase transparency, and De Jong will use the occasion to urge once more the tightening up of the code of conduct for ex-Commissioners.

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