The European Parliament on September 14 adopted a comprehensive and innovative set of proposals to boost the transparency, accountability and integrity of the EU institutions.
Central to the report were ways to curb the influence of powerful lobbies, which have long enjoyed privileged access to the decision-making process in Brussels.
The Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) backed efforts to establish an independent ethics committee, a “legislative footprint” obligation for those involved in the process of drafting EU legislation, and a cooling-off period for former MEPs. A code of conduct for EU institutions and bodies has also been put forward.
Citizens, meanwhile, will have better access to legislative documents and whistleblowers will be given greater protection.
It is hoped that giving more powers to citizens would also lead to renewed societal interest in the EU decision-making process.
Reacting to the vote, GUE/NGL Shadow on the report, Helmut Scholz, comments: “This is a major step towards greater transparency in European policymaking. While it has been an almost two-year struggle at the Parliament in pursuing a consistent and timely response on greater transparency and accountability, it has been worthwhile.”
“With this vote, the Parliament is now equipped with a clear position and majority. I’m pleased that lobbyists will now have to meet higher standards and be more transparent in accessing EU policymaking, as well as the fact that the revolving-door between representing citizens and representing big business interests for European Union officials will remain closed for longer periods of time. It is particularly important that Parliament itself is also subject to higher obligations,” he added.
However, Scholz gave a word of caution regarding the challenges these legislative proposals still face, both within Brussels and beyond. He said: “We must now ensure that the public remains conscious of our commitments to greater transparency and integrity, and that these standards are anchored in the proposed inter-institutional agreement between the three EU institutions.”