SP: limit must be put on MEPs’ extra earnings

14 October 2014

SP: limit must be put on MEPs’ extra earnings

The anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) today launched ‘EU Integrity Watch’, a database giving details about the moonlighting jobs held by Euro-MPs. Commenting on the initiative, one of SP’s own MEPs, Dennis de Jong, said ‘A few years ago I contributed to the writing of the Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament. With this we wanted to put an end to all forms of corruption and shady practices by Euro-MPs and in particular to prevent conflicts of interest. TI’s overview shows that Euro-MPs, over and above their more than ample salaries and expenses, moonlight for thousands of euros per month. I want as quickly as possible an end to be put to this by the imposition of a limit on such earnings. In addition, when reports are allocated to Members we need to take a much closer look at where they are getting their additional earnings. MEPs should not be writing reports on subjects in which as a result of their sidelines they have a personal interest.’

TI’s overview is based completely on Members’ own statements which the Code of Conduct obliges them to provide following their election. ‘So this is probably no more than the tip of the iceberg. It’s not impossible that fellow MEPs have overlooked certain positions, or have underestimated their incomes. There is after all absolutely no check done on their statements. It’s also quite pitiful that the European Parliament itself has been unwilling to produce such an oversight and that it’s a social organisation which has had to collect all the data itself.’

De Jong has fought for years for more transparency in the European Parliament. ‘In 2011 everyone was shocked by the “cash for laws” scandal. Undercover journalists from the Sunday Times had offered three Euro-MPs money in exchange for their putting certain amendments forward to EU legislative proposals, and they took the bait. Following that it looked with a Code of Conduct as if the EP would raise its own level of integrity to a higher level. I found the Code of Conduct at the time much too feeble when it came to its implementation, but at least it was a step forward. Now it turns out that graft and conflicts of interest have simply continued to occur. So it’s high time for a much stricter supervision of Euro-MPs’ earnings on the side.’

Photo: Transparency International EU Office (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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