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yks 6nnetu hing
12-02-2011, 04:47 AM
corruption... what corruption (http://euobserver.com/18/114475)?

MEPs hope to restore public trust with ethics code

01.12.11 @ 17:58
By Valentina Pop


BRUSSELS - In the wake of a cash-for-ammendments scandal, the European Parliament on Thursday (1 December) adopted a

new code of conduct that bans MEPs from asking or accepting money in exchange for influencing legislation.

"Increased powers of the European Parliament must be accompanied by an increased transparency and accountability of its members," parliament chief Jerzy Buzek told reporters.

Under the rulebook, MEPs are not allowed to "solicit, accept or receive any direct or indirect financial benefit or other reward in exchange for influencing, or voting on, legislation, motions for a resolution, written declarations or questions tabled in Parliament or any of its committees, and shall consciously seek to avoid any situation which might imply bribery."

Back in March, two MEPs resigned and one was expelled from his political group and stripped of parliamentary immunity after having accepted money from Sunday Times journalists posing as lobbyists in exchange for placing specific amendments.

Buzek said the Sunday Times investigation had created a "momentum" to push for the new ethics code, which also requires detailed declarations of jobs held by an MEP before taking office and other paid activities once elected. But he insisted that the code would have been crafted even without such pressure, so as to increase public trust in the EU legislature, whose powers have been boosted by the Lisbon Treaty.

EU deputies will also be forced to turn down any gift or benefit valued at more than €150.

Should the code be breached, an MEP would face sanctions ranging from a written warning to a dock in pay equivalent to earnings from up to 10 days, suspension of their activities with the exception of the right to vote for up to 10 days or the loss of office privileges within the parliament.

They cannot lose their seat, however, as it is an elected office, unless found guilty of criminal charges resulting in a prison sentence in their home country.

The impact of these sanctions will not be negligible, said British Liberal MEP Diana Wallis, noting that any breach of the code will be posted in "flashing red" on the parliament's website for all constituents to see.

"There is a growing gap between the public and the parliament, especially now with the economic crisis. We wanted to show that not all politicians are crooks, that there are morals and ethics in politics," Czech centre-left MEP Libor Roucek said.

Even as they welcomed the code as a step forward, anti-corruption campaigners also pointed out that MEPs are not banned from holding other paid jobs on the side and that there are no strong rules on 'revolving doors' - where former deputies go immediately into business after ending their mandate and use contacts and influence gained during their time in the legislature.

"We should go further and prohibit paid membership on company boards or other side-jobs, with the exception of teaching or similar activities," Romanian centre-right MEP Monica Macovei told this website.

Transparency International, which just published a corruption perception index showing that most EU countries are backsliding, warned that no real change will be possible if the code is not enforced "rigorously".

The watchdog pointed to the lack of a "cooling off" provision, preventing MEPs from moving straight into lobbying jobs after the end of their term.

"Moreover, the code does not outlaw all secondary employment that creates a conflict of interest. Nor does it include an obligation for MEPs to keep a record of all significant meetings with [lobbyists] in connection with their work," the group said.



Another source reported that there is now a requirement for MEP's to publish all their sources of income and non-political activities for 3 years prior to being elected in office.

Isabel
12-02-2011, 06:16 AM
Very good :)

DaiShan1981
12-02-2011, 07:04 AM
The problem is that so many of the congressmen of the EU Parliament have so little time and such huge issues to tackle, that they trust on lobbyist "experts" for the answers even when they don't get money. To be honest, I'm glad they're taking steps but I don't think it goes far enough.

yks 6nnetu hing
12-02-2011, 07:17 AM
The problem is that so many of the congressmen of the EU Parliament have so little time and such huge issues to tackle, that they trust on lobbyist "experts" for the answers even when they don't get money. To be honest, I'm glad they're taking steps but I don't think it goes far enough.

In any case it's better than not having anything in place at all. If they take advice, they take advice. So if they make a stupid decision it's not because of greed but rather because of... well, stupidity.

GonzoTheGreat
12-02-2011, 08:30 AM
In any case it's better than not having anything in place at all. If they take advice, they take advice. So if they make a stupid decision it's not because of greed but rather because of... well, stupidity.And since stupidity is a limited, non-renewable resource, eventually they'll run out of it. Good plan, that.

Ishara
12-05-2011, 11:03 AM
But ALL politicians make their decisions based on the advice of their staff. That's why half of being in government is writing and preparing briefing notes. They're designed to ask that decision be made, provide the context/ background and present pros and cons associated with the decision. Most also have alternative options that are deliberately couched to make them less appealing, with appropriate pros and cons.

The bottom line though, is that the decision maker should ask more questions if his staff haven't given him all thr information he thinks he needs...

Sinistrum
12-05-2011, 01:23 PM
Good luck enforcing it. ;)

DaiShan1981
12-05-2011, 03:04 PM
But ALL politicians make their decisions based on the advice of their staff. That's why half of being in government is writing and preparing briefing notes. They're designed to ask that decision be made, provide the context/ background and present pros and cons associated with the decision. Most also have alternative options that are deliberately couched to make them less appealing, with appropriate pros and cons.

The bottom line though, is that the decision maker should ask more questions if his staff haven't given him all thr information he thinks he needs...
The lobbyists aren't staff, that's the problem.

Mort
12-05-2011, 04:35 PM
Good luck enforcing it. ;)

Yeah. And even if it's being done semi-public now, it won't anymore. They will find other ways of hustling for money.

Now there's at least a law against it though, something to go on I guess.

Ishara
12-05-2011, 04:47 PM
The lobbyists aren't staff, that's the problem.

Yes, understood. Sorry, should have started there. What I meant to finish up with was that decisions can be informed by outside influence, but not dependent on them.

yks 6nnetu hing
12-06-2011, 01:45 AM
Oh I agree, it's not perfect. Human ingenuity can be pretty impressive when it comes to personal gain and finding loopholes in laws. But the point is, where there was no actual law before and this sort of thing was "only" frowned upon, now it's clearly punishable. Which I think is a positive development, for once.

Ishara
12-06-2011, 06:58 AM
I especially like the concept of the flashing red "violator" sign...LOL.

yks 6nnetu hing
12-06-2011, 07:26 AM
I especially like the concept of the flashing red "violator" sign...LOL.

lol, yes, and the "loss of office privileges".

maacaroni
12-06-2011, 07:30 AM
I'd prefer they go to jail, like those UK parliamentarians who fiddled their expenses.

yks 6nnetu hing
12-06-2011, 07:43 AM
I'd prefer they go to jail, like those UK parliamentarians who fiddled their expenses.

I would assume that that would be up to their country's legislation.

GonzoTheGreat
12-06-2011, 08:08 AM
I would assume that that would be up to their country's legislation.Which, of course, shows very well the great thing about European unity: the same behaviour in the same parliament will be judged according to entirely different legal systems.

Maybe the USA would be willing to copy that: abolish the ethics committees of House and Senate, and let the individual states worry about how they deal with corruption at the Federal level.

Sarevok
12-06-2011, 02:00 PM
I would assume that that would be up to their country's legislation.

I'm not a lawyer, but that would probably present a problem:
Say MEP A violated this code in country B. He can hardly be tried in country A, since it has no jurisdiction. However it's unlikely B has any legislation enforcing this codes of ethics on MEPs that aren't their own (unless it's in clear violation of local laws, of course.)

yks 6nnetu hing
12-06-2011, 02:12 PM
I'm not a lawyer, but that would probably present a problem:
Say MEP A violated this code in country B. He can hardly be tried in country A, since it has no jurisdiction. However it's unlikely B has any legislation enforcing this codes of ethics on MEPs that aren't their own (unless it's in clear violation of local laws, of course.)

read the article. they cannot be procecuted legally for that same reason. Any and all prosecution must occur according to the laws of their country. diplomatic immunity and all that.

But, unlike previously now there's a clear idication in the form of a big flashing red light if anyone does anything they shouldn't. Because, seriously, hor much attention to YOU pay on what the Dutch MP's actually do in the europarliament? none? yeah, same as everybody else.