Thursday 17 April 2014
Advertise  |  Subscribe  |  Register  | 


About cookies: we use cookies to support features like login and sharing articles. Keep cookies enabled to enjoy the full site experience. By browsing our site with cookies enabled, you are agreeing to their use. Review our cookies information for more details.

Parliament misses an opportunity

By Natacha Cingotti   -  15.11.2012 / 03:05 CET
The European Parliament's response to the Court of Auditors findings has been puzzling

The European Court of Auditors recently found significant failings in the management of conflicts of interest of several European regulatory agencies, including the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) (“EU agencies criticised over conflicts of interest”, 18-24 October, and “EMA's cash management under spotlight”, 31 October-7 November). The auditors concluded that, “none of the selected agencies adequately managed the conflict of interest situations” – not a mild critique coming from such a high-level institution. 

The European Parliament's response has been puzzling. Earlier this year, it postponed discharge of the EFSA and EMA accounts because of bad conflict-of-interest management; however, at its latest plenary, the Parliament approved the two agencies' accounts. As for the ECHA's accounts, the Parliament approved them in May, but said that it would consider the auditors' findings on conflicts of interest. The court's report was critical, but has had no effect on the Parliament's approval of the ECHA's accounts.

The investigation uncovered compelling examples of wrongdoings in all four agencies. The ECHA has responded that the investigation was prior to its new conflict-of-interest policy and has denied any conflict of interest. The agency's transparency and ethics standards leave, however, something to be desired. Earlier this year, it released a list of its staff only after Friends of the Earth Europe and ClientEarth submitted an access-to-information request. By way of comparison, the European Commission's directory of staff can be found online. The ECHA's new policy on conflicts of interest also fails to address the ‘revolving door' problem. Outgoing staff can still take up industry lobby jobs without any conditions. ECHA argues that the temporary nature of the contracts in the agency is an obstacle to the imposition of cooling-off periods. When it comes to public trust, ECHA fails to see the real problems of insufficient transparency and conflicts of interest. The auditors' report should be a wake-up call. In future, the Parliament should use its rights to scrutinise agencies to promote higher ethical standards.

© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.

Most viewed in Economics

Austerity is not working

Daniel Gros is right when he writes that structural reforms imposed by the ‘troika' have led to no real improvement in Greece (“What makes Greece special”, 13-19 March).

Deal reached on banking union

Compromise on bank resolution fund should bolster confidence in EU banking sector.

Euro sihn train

Germany signals some support for UK over EU reform

Finance ministers call for safeguards for member states outside the eurozone.

Finance ministers

Related articles

Draghi may cut interest rates to negative levels.

Finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Washington over the weekend sounded a cautiously upbeat note about the eurozone economy.

The banking union will harden the divides between the north and south and the core and periphery.

Money bolsters government ahead of European elections and in dealings with troika.

Draghi defends decision not to take action, says governing council talked about quantitative easing.




Your comment
Please note: The fields followed by an asterisk (*) are obligatory fields



Please, copy the code on the left into the box on the right

 I accept the Terms & conditions
 I would like to share my e-mail & website


Cookies info | Privacy policy | Terms & conditions