Foul smell of corruption in Brussels

10 July 2018

Foul smell of corruption in Brussels

Foto: Tom Parnell

A new report from Transparency International has revealed that a third of Members of the European Parliament are doing paid jobs in addition to their parliamentary duties. Commenting on the findings, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said, “MEPs earn so much that with your salary and expenses payments you can be a millionaire after just two five-year terms. That's already a ridiculous situation, but for many it's apparently insufficient. Their greed leads to them taking all sorts of highly paid jobs on the side. If you consider that working as a MEP demands a full-time commitment, it's clear that money is more important to them than representing their voters. Also, this is yet another thing which carries a great risk of bringing about conflicts of interest. That's why for years I've been advocating a total ban on paid work outside the Parliament for all MEPs.”

Renske Leijten, SP national parliamentary spokeswoman on European affairs added, “In Brussels lobbyists are constantly knocking on the door of European Commissioners and other policy-makers. Now it turns out that a third of MEPs are moonlighting. Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt's earnings from moonlighting amount to a million euros over just a few years, yet he scorns anyone who is critical of the European Union. Doesn't he see that he's behaving in a way which - with gigantic expenses payments on top of his salary every month, and on top of all that his moonlighting - is turning people against the European Parliament?”

As co-chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Transparency, Corruption and Organised Crime, De Jong wants to see the code of conduct for MEPs amended as soon as possible. “The existing code of conduct has been in place since 2011, since the cash-for-laws scandal,” he explains. “As a member of the working group which wrote this code of conduct, I argued back then for moonlighting to be banned, at the very least for those MEPs writing reports and for committee chairs. Unfortunately these proposals were voted down, so you can still be writing a report on privacy rules for social media while working on the side for Facebook. The Brussels Bubble is giving off a very bad smell and something needs to be done to clean it up.”

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