The reforms have, in effect, been sabotaged by reactionary forces – in this case, the Parliament's quaestors – who have introduced so many loopholes and get-out clauses that the final product is not worth the paper it is written on. So, once again, the Parliament stands accused of moral bankruptcy. All MEPs are now tainted by the decision without having had any say in it.
In our view, MEPs should declare, in a simple and straightforward fashion, all trips, flights and hospitality received from third parties (lobbyists, organisations, foreign governments etc). By exempting all economy flights and hotel stays less than €300 per night and only requiring declarations to be filed once a year, we drive a coach and horses through efforts to clean up our act and our image, and to reverse the declining turn-out in every European election since 1979.
From a purely administrative point of view, it is, surely, easier to declare all hospitality than to employ staff to evaluate whether it complies with a host of complex exceptions, exemptions and conditions. If the Parliament is to mature and to gain legitimacy with voters, it needs first and foremost to be open about its members' activities and what influences are being exerted on their decision-making. The advantage of transparency is that suspicions of conflicts of interest can be allayed while highlighting the breadth and depth of the Parliament's work, work that is both serious and legitimate.
The Parliament's leadership should review this decision and not leave the institution open once more to criticism and reproach when we face voters in June 2014.
Edward McMillan-Scott MEP
Alexander Alvaro MEP
Cecilia Wikström MEP