SP Euro-MP De Jong demands… › SP International

SP Euro-MP De Jong demands complete openness on Commission Expert Groups

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14 Feb 2017The report from SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong on the European Commission's advisory expert groups was today adopted with almost unanimous support (663-16, with 13 abstentions) by the European Parliament. “I'm very pleased with the enormous support for transparency shown by my fellow MEPs,” says De Jong. Referring to the Dutch Commissioner in charge of the portfolio on transparency, he notes that “Frans Timmermans will now have to take his responsibility and ensure that an end is put to the dominant position of major corporations in the Commission's hundreds of expert groups. We saw in the investigation into Dieselgate how harmful it can be when in expert groups like CARS21, the industry dominates and environmental and consumers' organisations hardly get a look in.”

In his rapport De Jong makes a range of recommendations as to how things might be improved. “The golden rule must be that citizens in the European Union can see what's being said by everyone in the expert groups,” he argues. “The Commission is still proceeding from the assumption that the groups' meetings should not be public, but all that comes from that is trouble. What I want to see is when a new Expert Group is being set up, the Commission makes clear what it understands to be a balanced composition, and what interests it believes must be represented. We must have a clear complaints procedure in the event that interest groups or concerned members of the public disagree.

While big corporations have sufficient cash to hire professional lobbyists, things are rather different for smaller firms and for NGOs. “To enable organisations with fewer resources to participate in the Expert Groups, the Commission must give much more generous financial reimbursement,” says De Jong. “And the representatives of national organisations with a mandate from their European umbrella body must be accepted as members of expert groups. I'm convinced that in that case sufficient representatives could be found to defend the interests of small firms, environmentalist NGOs and consumer organisations within the expert groups.” The report's adoption means that the Commission must report to the European Parliament by June 1st on how it tends to implement the new rules.

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