De Jong and Transparency International go for greater openness amongst MEPs

30 May 2012

De Jong and Transparency International go for greater openness amongst MEPs

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong has joined NGO Transparency International in an initiative in favour of greater openness amongst Members of the European Parliament. Last year the EP responded to a bribery scandal by adopting a tighter Code of Conduct. De Jong was among the eight MEPs who proposed the new rules. ‘The agreements made then represent a first step in the right direction. Now it appears, however, from a report from Masters’ Students at the Free University of Amsterdam, that these new rules are insufficiently clear and that they do not go far enough. Together with Transparency International and a group of MEPs I want to get to work on improving this.’

The initiative from De Jong and Transparency International, an international organisation that fights corruption, will be presented in June. The initiative will include amongst other elements a far-reaching, voluntary code for participating Euro-MPs governing their contacts with lobbyists. ‘The lack of openness over what goes on in Brussels was last year once again at the top of the league table of complaints received by the European ombudsman,’ notes De Jong. ‘By signing up to this Code of Conduct Members will be setting a good example. They will be expected to maintain a record of which lobbyists they have had contact with in compiling an official report of the European Parliament.’

The proposals come a few days after the publication of a report from four Amsterdam Free University Masters’ students. In the report all Dutch MEPs were asked to make public their contacts with lobbyists during a single month. Fewer than half cooperated, and from those who did it became clear that there is a great deal of confusion as to what constitutes a ‘lobbyist’. It also appears that there is confusion over what comes under the definition of a ‘secondary job’ or ‘secondary service’. This is important, as with very specific exceptions, MEPs are forbidden to accept additional employment.

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