None. There is no regulation requiring former MEPs to seek authorisation for their subsequent activities.
Silvana Koch-Mehrin served two mandates in the European Parliament from 2004 to 2014. She was vice-president of the ALDE (liberal democrat) group from 2004 to 2009 and a vice-president of the Parliament from 2009 until she resigned that role in 2011 following a scandal about her doctoral thesis and allegations of plagiarism. As an MEP, she was an active member of the committee on industry, research and energy and a substitute member of the international trade committee.
During her time in the Parliament, Koch-Mehrin was particularly active on trade policy. She published several reports, mostly as a shadow rapporteur, on the EU's trade with Russia, focusing on imports such as raw materials, wood and steel products. She also was active on the EU-Canada (CETA) trade agreement process, both in her parliamentary work and in the public domain. Furthermore, Koch-Mehrin regularly dealt with trade, plus energy and tax policy in her work via the EU delegations with Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.
Of particular note, Koch-Mehrin was a shadow rapporteur for the proposal establishing a framework for financial responsibility in investor-state dispute settlement tribunals (ISDS) made within EU trade agreements, which set out who has to pay for ISDS resolutions within the Lisbon Treaty framework, member states or the EU institutions. ISDS is the mechanism that allows companies to sue states at an international tribunal of private lawyers when a change in law impacts upon private profits. ISDS is one of the most controversial aspects of TTIP talks but it has also been included in other trade agreements, including CETA.
“gplus europe is pleased to welcome Silvana Koch-Mehrin, until recently a German liberal MEP, as its newest senior policy adviser. (…) Based in Brussels, Silvana brings with her fantastic, recent experience in the European Parliament.”
In 2014, the firm spent between €3,000,000 and €3,249,999 on lobbying activities in Brussels according to the lobby register (viewed 1 July 2015), with interests in “energy, healthcare, financial services, digital, data protection, taxation, agriculture, transport, fisheries, antitrust and trade”.
“Our staff stems from diverse backgrounds having held senior posts in and around the EU institutions, Brussels media and interest groups, which enables us to offer our clients informed and fresh strategic thinking and excellent networks in Brussels and Strasbourg.”
Koch-Mehrin's trade experience will be particularly useful for gplus as many of its clients appear to have keen interests in the EU's ongoing trade negotiations, including TTIP. For instance, gplus lists the American telecommunication firm Qualcomm Inc as a client, accounting for between €100,000-€199,999 in lobby revenue in 2014. In less than seven months, Qualcomm had several meetings with the trade commissioner's cabinet to discuss intellectual property issues in China, and patents and standards in the ICT sector, including with gplus staff.
In the same period, according to Intergritywatch.eu, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), also a gplus client, had two meetings with the trade commissioner's cabinet, one to discuss trade negotiations and health, the other to discuss TTIP specifically. gplus itself has participated in Commission-organised TTIP stakeholder events.
Gplus also lists Mayer Brown Europe-Brussels LLP, the law firm, as a client. In its lobby registration, gplus discloses only that its work for Mayer Brown is focused on “a coalition of non-European companies involved in chemical production and trade with the EU”. It gives no further detail about whom it actually represents, nor what its trade interests are. In CEO's view, listing clients in this opaque way does not meet the requirements of the lobby register.
Koch-Mehrin's experience of trade with Russia and overall EU energy issues will be an asset to gplus, considering its lobby work for the Russian government (via Ketchum Ltd) and the Russian state's gas company Gazprom Export. CEO's past research has already exposed how gplus' PR spin machine in Brussels promotes the Russian government position on the conflict with Ukraine. Both Gazprom and Ketchum/ Russia bring gplus an annual lobby revenue of between €100,000 and €199,999 each.
Koch-Mehrin also has a reputation for her work on gender equality in politics. In 2013 she founded the Women in Parliament Global Forum (WIP), a global network connecting female parliamentarians. She remains WIP's chairperson.
In response to CEO's enquiries, Koch-Mehrin declared that:
“Firstly, I have decided to take on the role of senior policy advisor at gplus europe following a thorough reflection beforehand. Just to be clear -- the role of Senior Policy advisor is not a day to day regular client serving position in the company. My activities are limited to occasional strategic advice as and when required. I chose to join gplus as it is a well established and respected company in the market place and they work fully transparently. During my time as an MEP I had very limited contacts with gplus Europe and as you will be aware my record as a member of the European parliament is available and can be consulted at any time. I see absolutely no conflict of interest as regards my past role and what I am doing at this time. My current WIP role is in fact unpaid and again is conducted in full transparency (see register).”
The rules in the European Parliament
The code of conduct for MEPs (approved in 2011) that “Former Members of the European Parliament who engage in professional lobbying or representational activities directly linked to the European Union decision-making process may not, throughout the period in which they engage in those activities, benefit from the facilities granted to former Members under the rules laid down by the Bureau to that effect”. However, there is no process to monitor or enforce this part of the code and ensure that former MEPs do not use their lifelong access pass for lobbying purposes.
So far, Koch-Mehrin does not have a lobbyist pass.
When MEPs leave the European parliament they are entitled to a transitional allowance equivalent to one month's salary for every year they have been an MEP, with a minimum pay-out of six months' salary and a maximum of 24 months.
CEO's report on revolving door cases related to TTIP can be found here.
“This is a clear example of how the revolving door works in Brussels. By hiring a former MEP, gplus gains access to detailed know-how and experience developed in the Parliament. Koch-Mehrin differentiates between providing “occasional strategic advice” and being in a “client serving position”. However, her role at gplus is still intimately connected with lobbying and she could still unduly benefit gplus clients. The Parliament needs to act and urgently implement rules that adequately prevent both the actuality and perception of conflict of interests.”