Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

  • Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

MEPs on industry payroll: potential conflicts of interest persist in EU parliament – new research

Nine cases of MEPs who have other jobs while holding public office

Report available here: http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/foee_ceo_lc_-_1506_-_whos...

Potential conflicts of interest continue to plague the European Parliament one year after elections, finds new research released today.

The report from Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl, details nine cases of MEPs who have other jobs while holding public office and are at risk of potential conflicts of interest.

All nine MEPs hold paid positions in companies or business associations that directly or indirectly lobby EU decision-makers on current legislative files. The cases include parliamentarians from Poland, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, the UK, Denmark and Austria [2] – some of which had already given rise to concerns in the last parliamentary term.

Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe said: “It is not acceptable that MEPs work for companies that are at the same time lobbying the EU. This undermines public trust in law-making and the integrity of the European Parliament. MEPs should be their electorate’s representative, not industry’s representative.”

The report authors point out that the existing code of conduct for MEPs, introduced in 2012, is insufficiently enforced and riddled with loopholes so that problematic cases keep arising.

Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory said: “Voters deserve better than a weak code of conduct that has done very little to end the problem of undue influence and potential conflicts of interest. Parliament's President Martin Schulz should act on this now and show citizens that he's serious about tackling this threat to democracy.”

Nina Katzemich from LobbyControl said: “Three years after the code of conduct was adopted, there are still many MEPs with potential conflicts of interest and dubious declarations of financial interest. It is high time for an overhaul. We demand the parliament bans all side jobs in companies or associations that try to influence EU legislation.”

Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl are recommending the parliament’s code of conduct be strengthened in the following ways:

  • Develop a clear definition of the circumstances under which side activities by MEPs constitute a conflict of interest. This must include a ban on MEPs holding positions in companies, trade associations and other groups that are trying to influence EU legislation.

  • Prohibit MEPs from accepting external support, be it staff or financial support (with the exception of political parties).

  • Implement tighter disclosure requirements for outside financial interests, force MEPs to be more specific about their outside earnings, and ensure full disclosure of any monthly income above €10,000 as well as giving more detailed descriptions of ambiguous job titles.

  • Change the composition of the advisory committee on the code of conduct for MEPs to include independent ethics experts, and enable it to investigate any potential conflict of interest independently as required.

  • Strengthen sanctions for MEPs with conflicts of interest.

***

For more information please contact:

Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe: +32 494 38 09 59, paul.declerck@foeeurope.org

Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory: +32 474 48 65 45, olivier@corporateeurope.org

Nina Katzemich, LobbyControl: +49 221 995 715 15, +49 179 50 930 22, nina.katzemich@lobbycontrol.de

Notes:

[1] The report ‘Whose representatives? MEPs on the industry payroll’ can be found here: foee_ceo_lc_-_1506_-_whose_representatives_-meps_on_the_industry_payrollfinal.pdf:

[2] The MEPs featured in the report are: Michał Boni – Poland; Bendt Bendtsen – Denmark; Birgit Collin-Langen – Germany; Nirj Deva – UK; Rachida Dati – France; Dariusz Rosati – Poland; Paul Rübig – Austria; Renato Soru – Italy, Guy Verhofstadt – Belgium.

Update on June 18, 2015: After the publication of this report MEP Michał Boni contacted the author to clarify that he no longer has a paid role with the Polish business organisation Lewiatan. In his letter Mr Boni clarifies that his activities took place between January 2014 and June 2014. Mr Boni states: "I apologize for my incorrectly filled Declaration of the Member's Financial Interests, which I submitted on July 1st, 2014". 
Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl call on Mr Boni to rectify his Declaration of Financial Interest.

Click here to read Mr Boni's full response to the report.

Report available here: http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/foee_ceo_lc_-_1506_-_whos...Potential conflicts of interest continue to plague the European Parliament one year after elections, finds new research released today.The report from Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl, details nine cases of MEPs who have other jobs while holding public office and are at risk of potential conflicts of interest.All nine MEPs hold paid positions in companies or business associations that directly or indirectly lobby EU decision-makers on current legislative files. The cases include parliamentarians from Poland, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, the UK, Denmark and Austria [2] – some of which had already given rise to concerns in the last parliamentary term.Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe said: “It is not acceptable that MEPs work for companies that are at the same time lobbying the EU. This undermines public trust in law-making and the integrity of the European Parliament. MEPs should be their electorate’s representative, not industry’s representative.”The report authors point out that the existing code of conduct for MEPs, introduced in 2012, is insufficiently enforced and riddled with loopholes so that problematic cases keep arising.Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory said: “Voters deserve better than a weak code of conduct that has done very little to end the problem of undue influence and potential conflicts of interest. Parliament's President Martin Schulz should act on this now and show citizens that he's serious about tackling this threat to democracy.”Nina Katzemich from LobbyControl said: “Three years after the code of conduct was adopted, there are still many MEPs with potential conflicts of interest and dubious declarations of financial interest. It is high time for an overhaul. We demand the parliament bans all side jobs in companies or associations that try to influence EU legislation.”Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl are recommending the parliament’s code of conduct be strengthened in the following ways:Develop a clear definition of the circumstances under which side activities by MEPs constitute a conflict of interest. This must include a ban on MEPs holding positions in companies, trade associations and other groups that are trying to influence EU legislation.Prohibit MEPs from accepting external support, be it staff or financial support (with the exception of political parties).Implement tighter disclosure requirements for outside financial interests, force MEPs to be more specific about their outside earnings, and ensure full disclosure of any monthly income above €10,000 as well as giving more detailed descriptions of ambiguous job titles.Change the composition of the advisory committee on the code of conduct for MEPs to include independent ethics experts, and enable it to investigate any potential conflict of interest independently as required.Strengthen sanctions for MEPs with conflicts of interest.***For more information please contact:Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe: +32 494 38 09 59, paul.declerck@foeeurope.orgOlivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory: +32 474 48 65 45, olivier@corporateeurope.orgNina Katzemich, LobbyControl: +49 221 995 715 15, +49 179 50 930 22, nina.katzemich@lobbycontrol.de Notes:[1] The report ‘Whose representatives? MEPs on the industry payroll’ can be found here: foee_ceo_lc_-_1506_-_whose_representatives_-meps_on_the_industry_payrollfinal.pdf:[2] The MEPs featured in the report are: Michał Boni – Poland; Bendt Bendtsen – Denmark; Birgit Collin-Langen – Germany; Nirj Deva – UK; Rachida Dati – France; Dariusz Rosati – Poland; Paul Rübig – Austria; Renato Soru – Italy, Guy Verhofstadt – Belgium.Update on June 18, 2015: After the publication of this report MEP Michał Boni contacted the author to clarify that he no longer has a paid role with the Polish business organisation Lewiatan. In his letter Mr Boni clarifies that his activities took place between January 2014 and June 2014. Mr Boni states: "I apologize for my incorrectly filled Declaration of the Member's Financial Interests, which I submitted on July 1st, 2014". Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl call on Mr Boni to rectify his Declaration of Financial Interest.Click here to read Mr Boni's full response to the report.
 

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

The European Commission proposal on scientific criteria defining endocrine disruptors (EDCs) is the latest dangerous outgrowth of a highly toxic debate. The chemical lobby, supported by certain Commission factions (notably DG SANTE and the Secretary-General) and some member states (UK and Germany), has put significant obstacles in the way of effective public health and environment regulation.

In the run up to the UK referendum on EU membership on 23 June, Corporate Europe Observatory has tabled a series of freedom of information requests to find out how UK finance lobbies have been influencing the referendum negotiations and the Capital Markets Union. But the Brexit-Bremain referendum seems to be a freedom of information black hole.

From the day a referendum on UK membership of the EU was first announced in 2013, the financial sector started using Cameron’s re-negotiation process to promote its deregulatory agenda. Sometimes lobbying was required, but more often the UK government did its work for them. 

A new report on carbon market reform has kicked off debate on the issue in the European Parliament. It promises new loopholes for the oil industry and other polluters.

The official EU assessment of glyphosate was based on unpublished studies owned by industry. Seven months later, the pesticide industry still fights disclosure and, so far, successfully. We obtained a copy of their arguments.

While CEO is not taking a position on the UK referendum, many of our publications are relevant to those who will have a vote, or those who are following the debate.

Biodiversity collapse, the future of agriculture, politics versus science, EU States and the European Commission shifting blame on each other, industry's capture of the regulatory process through data secrecy, a Commissioner caught between Juncker, EU States, lobby groups, and his own services... The glyphosate saga, coming to the end of its first phase tomorrow, has been an entry point into many broader problems. Overview.

The European Commission proposal on scientific criteria defining endocrine disruptors (EDCs) is the latest dangerous outgrowth of a highly toxic debate. The chemical lobby, supported by certain Commission factions (notably DG SANTE and the Secretary-General) and some member states (UK and Germany), has put significant obstacles in the way of effective public health and environment regulation.

The corporate lobby tour