Committee to issue report a year after cash-for-influence scandal.
An advisory committee of MEPs is to publish its first report on the functioning of the European Parliament's code of conduct, one year after the code was adopted following a cash-for-influence scandal.
In the report, to be adopted on Tuesday (22 January), the five-member standing committee will summarise its work to date, outline cases where MEPs failed properly to declare certain interests, and provide guidance on areas where it believes the code of conduct is ambiguous. The committee's main function is to advise individual MEPs when they have doubts about whether and how to declare gifts or income from other jobs. Gerald Häfner, a German Green MEP on the committee, said that the result has been “a new culture of openness and transparency”. “We cannot know what might be happening in the dark corners, but overall, this is a big step forward,” he said.
But the standing committee will not propose any changes to rules on declaring gifts of travel and accommodation – a subject of sharp controversy and accusations of laxity since last May, when the Parliament's leadership set a threshold of €300 below which paid-for hotel accommodation does not have to be declared. Economy-class air travel and second-class railway travel are also exempt from the transparency requirements. For other gifts, the threshold is €150.
A separate review of these rules has been entrusted to an ad-hoc panel chaired by Rainer Wieland, a centre-right German MEP, which will report in February. The panel was created by Martin Schulz, the president of the Parliament, in response to a bid by four political groups – the Socialists and Democrats, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, the Greens, and the European United Left/Nordic Green Left – to overturn the decision.
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