‘Friendship’ teams of MEPs with international locations exterior the EU shall be banned below new plans to enhance transparency within the European Parliament within the wake of the Qatargate bribery scandal.
There are at present dozens of ‘friendship’ teams and different coverage working teams which wouldn’t have official standing inside the Parliament and whose actions are sometimes financed by lobbyists.
The 14-point plan, seen by EURACTIV, that was agreed upon by the Parliament’s management, together with the chamber’s President Roberta Metsola, is ready to be on the coronary heart of the Parliament’s response to the Qatargate scandal.
The scandal noticed a number of MEPs and parliamentary workers arrested and charged for allegedly taking bribes in trade for political help. The Emirati nation has denied any wrongdoing.
There’s hypothesis that different international locations, together with Morocco, have additionally supplied monetary inducements to EU lawmakers for political favours, although this has been denied by Rabat.
The Parliament additionally plans to introduce common checks on all lobbyists within the Transparency Register together with requesting them to confirm hyperlinks with third international locations. In the meantime, MEPs may very well be required to publish all conferences with third events associated to a Parliament report or a decision and declare any abroad journeys.
“The occasions of the final month have led to a must re-build belief with the European residents we signify,” a protecting be aware states, including that the proposals are the “first step in reinforcing belief in European decision-making”.
Nonetheless, lots of the proposals quantity to going after low-hanging fruit. Though MEPs have beforehand known as for a brand new impartial ethics physique, this may require proposals by the European Fee. Nor do the proposals embrace plans to make lobbyists publish contracts and their actions with international governments and actors.
Different deliberate measures embrace requiring MEPs to make a declaration on any battle of curiosity earlier than changing into rapporteurs or shadow rapporteurs on a file.
Former MEPs may also be topic to a ‘’cooling off’’ interval earlier than they will begin lobbying the Parliament, and can now not be allowed to have everlasting Parliament passes or to grant entry to different folks.
Good begin, however we would like extra
A spokesperson for Metsola informed EURACTIV that there was “full help” for the President’s proposals.
Nonetheless, negotiations are nonetheless in an early stage and the Parliament’s political teams predict extra measures on high of those preliminary proposals.
European Folks’s Occasion President Manfred Weber informed EURACTIV that the proposal represents “steps in the proper path”. Nonetheless, “extra is required for Parliament to totally cope with the implications of Qatargate”, he stated.
Weber additionally attacked the Socialist and Democrat (S&D) group, a number of of whose members have been implicated in Qatargate, saying that they didn’t apply “zero tolerance coverage in opposition to corruption”.
S&D President Iratxe Garcia Perez stated in a press launch that “we had an excellent dialogue” and that the group is collaborating for the investigation of the Qatargate.
“We’re completely decided to work with the remainder of the teams to rebuild residents’ belief and restore the injury achieved by a number of to the credibility of the establishment by felony acts,” she added.
In the meantime, a supply from the liberal Renew Europe group informed EURACTIV that they help the proposal. “We insist on enhancing the moral physique,” the supply stated.
The calendar doesn’t totally rely on the European Parliament as different establishments are concerned.
In accordance with Renew, there’s the political will to “clear up it earlier than the Summer time” from the EU Parliament aspect.
Luca Bertuzzi contributed to reporting on this story.
[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]