Home » Qatargate: EU ombudsman tells Parliament to beef up ‘limited’ ethics committee
Corruption European Parliament Featured Global News News

Qatargate: EU ombudsman tells Parliament to beef up ‘limited’ ethics committee


The assembly’s ethics body operates largely in secret.

A European Parliament committee tasked with policing the behavior of MEPs should be strengthened in the wake of the Qatargate corruption scandal, EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly told Parliament President Roberta Metsola on Monday.

The ombudsman sent a largely positive-sounding letter to Metsola, welcoming her “determination” to clean up the Parliament and praising some of her 14 proposals such as creating an integrity portal on the institution’s website and introducing a strict cooling-off period banning former MEPs from lobbying the Parliament.

O’Reilly also zoomed in on the Parliament’s only ethics body, an advisory committee formed of five MEPs whose role is to ensure that MEPs stick to an ethics code that sets out integrity rules in areas like financial conflicts of interests, declaring gifts or paid-for foreign trips. The committee’s MEPs are appointed by the president and advise her on how to sanction MEPs who fall foul of the rules. The committee operates largely in secret, only publishing one report per year which doesn’t name specific MEPs who’ve been punished.

“The Advisory Committee monitors the Code of Conduct but has limited powers. Addressing this implies strengthening the independence of the Committee, granting it powers proactively to monitor, investigate and ensure compliance with ethics rules, and providing it with sufficient resources,” O’Reilly wrote in her letter to Metsola. O’Reilly, whose recommendations aren’t binding, added that there should be more transparency about the way the ethics body operates.

Metsola’s plan is already facing resistance from senior MEPs, while there are attacks from the left that the proposals fall short of what MEPs voted for in December. One of Metsola’s 14 points focuses on “strengthening the Code of Conduct Committee” but gives little detail about how this will be achieved, according to a version of the plans dated January 12.

O’Reilly also called on Metsola to publish a timeline of the next steps on the internal reforms. “I look forward to the detailed proposals giving effect to the general approach you have outlined, to see how the reform will be implemented in practice,” the ombudsman wrote.

Source: politico