The European Parliament voted on the discharge of the EU budget this week. The members of the Anti-Corruption Intergroup have successfully collaborated on a number of amendments in the area of transparency and integrity. The discharge reports will now be submitted to the respective institutions which will have to report to the Budgetary Control Committee in the fall on how they are planning to implement the recommendations.
The most important decisions at a glance:
Better readability of meetings with lobbyists: Following the Intergroup’s joint letter earlier this year, President Sassoli had already agreed to link the tool to publish MEP’s lobby meetings with the Legislative Observatory and Transparency Register. The European Parliament now voted for an amendment co-signed by a number of Intergroup MEPs to improve the tool even further. Once the changes are implemented, it will be easier to check which Member discussed a certain legislative procedure with which lobbyist. Citizens will be able to see which lobbyist has shaped which law.
Prevent abuse of the General Expenditure Allowance: All MEPs in the European Parliament receive a lump sum of €4563 per month for office expenses without having to prove whether they use this money correctly. Last year, the Committee on Budgetary Control asked the Bureau to tighten up the rules and, among other things, to oblige MEPs to state what they have spent their money on. Independent audits should also help to ensure that taxpayers’ money is not wasted. At our request, the Bureau has now been asked to finally implement these recommendations.
Protection of whistleblowers will be improved: The rules for the protection of whistleblowers are to be harmonised in all EU institutions. The Parliament will have to adapt its internal policies to the Whistleblower Directive, including the protection of MEPs’ assistants if they report fraud or corruption. MEPs also call for compulsory training for superiors and secure reporting channels for whistleblowers.
More transparency in the Council: We demand that the complete minutes of Council meetings be made available to the public. Similarly, a majority of MEPs are concerned about the current practice of Council Presidencies of receiving sponsorship from companies. This damages the reputation of the institution. The President and the Council Presidency should make all meetings public and join the transparency register.
Better enforcement of the Code of Conduct: Our proposal to require Members to provide more details in their declaration of financial interests could unfortunately not get a majority. However, the plenary approved an amendment calling on the President to consequently sanction all breaches of the Code of Conduct by Members.