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Independent Ethics Committee vital to regain citizens’ trust

UPDATE: our request was overwhelmingly supported by the chamber. MEPs will debate on this issue today.

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The Left group in the European Parliament will request a debate on ethics and conflicts of interest in EU institutions at the opening of Parliament’s plenary session today.

The request comes on the heels of confirmation hearings for Commissioners-designate that exposed a flawed process that overlooked alleged corruption, financial impropriety and conflicts of interest.

Of the 26 Commissioners in von der Leyen’s team, two were rejected outright by the Parliament due to conflicts of interest (the Romanian and Hungarian nominees) and two were called back for additional questioning (Poland and France).

However, there were irregularities and doubts over the declarations of many of the nominees as highlighted  by group co-President Manon Aubry (France Insoumise, France).

Aubry is calling for the establishment of an independent ethics committee to take charge of the assessments:

“How can you expect European citizens to trust their institutions if nothing is done to end conflicts of interest among the most powerful EU leaders?

“An independent ethics body is the only way to solve the problem. With clear rules, transparent procedures and sufficient means. If most member states have a system in place, why would the EU be the exception?

“French Commissioner-designate Sylvie Goulard is the subject of an investigation for fictitious jobs in France. As an MEP, she was paid more than €10,000 per month by the Berggruen Institute, a think tank of the American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

“Questions about Goulard’s links with Berggruen have long been raised: has she passed on confidential information from the European Parliament? Does she advise on European industrial and technological policy?

“The review procedure by the Legal Affairs Committee is superficial and biased. MEPs have neither the time nor the means to assess the candidates. A proof of this is that they did not even ask questions to Mrs. Goulard about her links with Berggruen.

“The paid activities of MEPs outside their mandate must be limited and an independent ethics authority for the Commission and Parliament must be established. It must have the time and means for serious work,” Manon concluded.

Read our paper “Citizens separated from EU institutions” with our proposals for a committee on ethics.

The request for debate will be voted at the start of the session today at 15:00.

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