Week of truth for transparency in the European Parliament

14 April 2014

Week of truth for transparency in the European Parliament

This week it will become clear whether the European Parliament is serious about transparency or whether all of its pronouncements on the issue have been mere election rhetoric. On 14th April lobby watchdog ALTER-EU will ask all candidates in the forthcoming European Parliament elections to sign a pledge: are they for transparency or not? The SP’s European team will be keeping a close eye on this and will continue to report. We’ll see clearly which candidates really want to tackle this. On Tuesday the EP will vote on the evaluation of the transparency register, which, as SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains ‘is incomplete. Lots of lobbyists have yet to register. That’s why I’ve proposed a number of improvements, including an obligation on European Union officials to meet only with registered lobbyists.’ De Jong adds that ‘this is also the week in which we’ll find out whether EP president Martin Schulz can stay in office following his recent attempt to cover up matters that impugn his own integrity.’

Dennis de JongTwo years after the establishment of the European Parliament’s and European Commission’s common lobby register, the EP will this week issue its evaluation of the new system. ‘Two years on we can confirm that the voluntary register does not work sufficiently well. Many Brussels-based lobbyists are still not registered and the information provided is incomplete, out-of-date and far from always being reliable,’ says De Jong. ‘That’s why we must ban EU officials from having any contact with unregistered lobbyists. In addition the Commission and EP must tighten up their checks on the information lobbyists provide. Lastly, something must at last be done to ensure that every piece of legislation proposed is accompanied by notice of which lobbyists have influenced the proposal.’

It is also expected that a vote will be taken on the position as president of the European Parliament of German social democrat Martin Schulz. ‘During a vote two weeks ago in Brussels it emerged that Schulz was reluctant to bring a passage which concerned his functioning as president to the vote,’ explains De Jong. ‘Most Members refused to accept this and this week we will see whether Schulz will in the end allow the offending paragraph to come to the vote. If not, then there’s a threat of a motion of no confidence. In my view Schulz can leave immediately. The official European Parliament summit has become a sort of personal court for Schulz which constantly hinders me in my work for the Budgetary Control Committee. I can’t examine the irregularities in expenses reimbursements, or look into the real costs of the travelling circus which sees us meet in Strasbourg each month. On top of that, anti-corruption body Transparency International last week revealed, alarmingly, that they too had been unable to gain any access to information regarding integrity within the EP. Schulz himself had a hand in that, too. All of this, added to the nepotism and the way in which nominations are made in the Parliament, makes Schulz totally unsuitable for any leadership function in a European Union institution.’

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