EU institutions under fire for ethics violations

Shiva Singh

Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) EU institutions have come under fire for ethics violations, with MEPs pledging to overhaul ethics standards in the wake of the EP bribery scandal.

Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, announced she would use the scandal to push through reforms that will ensure the “highest standards of integrity and independence,” according to Financial Times reporting on Wednesday.

Jourová pointed out that she wants to implement reforms in all EU institutions and stressed it was “the right thing to do.”

Belgian police is investigating the bribery scandal involving MEPs and Moroccan and Qatari government representatives, with prosecutors calling on Monday to strip two more MEPs of parliamentary immunity.

According to Belgian authorities, the investigation was launched in March 2021 and is comparable in scale to a major organised crime probe.

Jourová revealed that she wants to form an independent ethics body as well as reform transparency rules in all EU institutions to protect democratic standards. “It is critical to have strong, enforceable rules covering all institutions – and not allow for exemptions,” she stressed.

Lobbying in EP

Dutch MEP Mohammed Chahim pointed out that lobbyists were “bothering people in the corridors” and noted, “we have rules, but they are a bit too voluntary.”

According to Transparency International’s report released in 2018, only 24 alleged code of conduct breaches were reported in roughly six years, of which only one resulted in sanctions.

German MEP Daniel Freund warned “there’s an issue with impunity – people don’t get sanctioned and feel invulnerable.”

According to Freund, “the biggest problem with the ethics framework is all the institutions are self-policing and they have no incentive to go hard on violations.”

The European Commission has also come under fire for ethics violations, with critics pointing to revolving door practices. EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly warned that failure to maintain ethics standards in the EC could erode public trust in the bloc’s institutions.

EP President Roberta Metsola announced plans to protect democratic standards in EU institutions by proposing a new sanctions regime this month.

Her plan includes a mandatory register of all meetings of MEPs and their assistants with third country actors, which some MEPs warn could limit who they could meet.

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Shiva is a professional digital marketer who covers the latest updates in the tech industry from across the globe. With an experience of over 5 years in the world of Information Technology, he likes to keep up with every major development and writes fact-based pieces backed by in-depth research.