SP: Ban MEPs from moonlighting

30 September 2015

SP: Ban MEPs from moonlighting

In the wake of the Volkswagen fraud and the ensuing debate on the close links between the auto industry and the European Union institutions, it has emerged that Hans van Baalen, Member of the European Parliament for the bigger of the two Dutch governing coalition parties, the centre-right VVD, was on the Mercedes-Benz payroll. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, commenting on the revelations, said: ´Van Baalen has given up his job on the side and so at first glance he is not in formal conflict with the current rules. The code of conduct for Euro-MPs does set limits, for example when you are the EP rapporteur on a subject, but beyond that you can have as many paid jobs outside the Parliament as you like. At the moment review of these internal rules is on the EP agenda, and as chair of the European Parliament transparency network, I would say that paid moonlighting jobs should be banned as soon as possible, because an end must be put to the cosy relationship between, for example, the automobile industry and Euro-MPs.’

Hans van Baalen’s moonlighting jobs are, in themselves, permitted, as are the countless outside jobs held by Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian leader of the liberal group in the EP, the ALDE, which there were rumours about for some time before it emerged that his sidelines earn him €230,000 p.a. The MEPs’ code of conduct allows this and demands only that if you want to be rapporteur on a certain subject, there must be no question of a conflict of interests. ‘Although the code of conduct was an important first step on the way to transparency, it’s clear that conflicts of interest due to relationships between elected representatives and corporate business is still going on.,’ said De Jong. So I want us now to follow through and introduce a ban on outside paid employment.’

De Jong’s proposals could be immediately taken up by the EP, seeing that the institution’s rules of procedure are already under review. ‘We have in the past tried to tackle MEPs’ conflicts of interest with less radical measures,’ he explained. ‘You can get rid of the worst abuses in that way, but the culture of graft in the EP is something we clearly haven’t been able to change. That’s why we need much tougher rules.´

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