None. There is no regulation requiring former MEPs to seek authorisation for their subsequent activities.
Michał Kamiński first became an MEP in 2004 although he stepped down in 2007 to join the Polish government as minister for media policy; this led the BBC to call him a “spin doctor”. He rejoined the European Parliament in 2009 and for the next two years he was chairman of the European Conservative and Reformists group (ECR).
In recent years, Kamiński was a member of a number of European Parliament delegations and committees. These included: the delegations with Mercosur (South American) countries and the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly. He was also a member of the committee on development and the committee on petitions. He was a substitute member of the delegations to EU-Armenia, EU-Azerbaijan and EU-Georgia parliamentary cooperation committees; the delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly (which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine); the committee on foreign affairs; and the committee on constitutional affairs.
In October 2014, it was announced that Kamiński had become a partner in Prism Group’s Warsaw office and the head of the firm’s activities in Brussels. His Prism Group online profile says that he will
“provide clients counsel and direction relating to the European crossroads of regulation, policy, and politics.”
Prism says that its
“collective experience includes extensive must-win campaign practice, crafting public affairs plans for multinational organizations, and operating successfully at the highest rungs of government, politics, and business – including work throughout Central and Eastern Europe, and the United States.”
Prism has an office in Brussels and yet it is not registered in the EU's voluntary lobby transparency register. This means that it is impossible to know who Prism works for and how much their lobby turnover amounts to.
Prism works in “strategic partnerships” with other firms and in this capacity members of the Prism team have additionally conducted work for the Ukrainian and Azerbaijani governments and produced “creative and branding efforts for politicians and political parties in Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Israel”.
The rules in the European Parliament
The code of conduct for MEPs (approved in 2011) states 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.
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 contacted Kamiński about his new role in advance of publishing this article but no response was received including to questions about his Prism clients and whether or not he has accepted the transitional allowance.
A number of other MEPs have recently been through the revolving door into lobby jobs or other jobs which provoke a concern about a possible conflict of interest. They include: Sharon Bowles, ex-chair of the economic and monetary affairs committee (ECON) who has now joined the board of London Stock Exchange Group as a non-executive director; Arlene McCarthy, ex-vice-chair of ECON who has now joined UK lobby firm Sovereign Strategy as deputy chair of European strategy; and Corien Wortmann-Kool who has joined the board of insurance giant Aegon. Meanwhile, Emilie Turunen who was on the internal market and consumer protection committee, has now joined the major Danish bank Nykredit as head of public affairs; and Fiona Hall, formerly of the industry, research and energy committee, has now set up a consultancy and has the major client of energy efficiency company Rockwool.
“When a public affairs firm like Prism has a Brussels office, there should not be any doubt that it should join the EU lobby register. It is very disappointing that Michał Kamiński has joined Prism so soon after ending his term as an MEP. His new role to “provide clients counsel and direction relating to the European crossroads of regulation, policy, and politics” clearly implies that he will be doing interest representation work. CEO considers that MEPs should not be able to cash-in on their EU experience in this way. The code of conduct for MEPs and transitional allowance system need urgent reform to prevent MEPs such as Kamiński moving so swiftly through the revolving door into this kind of job.”