The EU Parliament has revised its Rules of Procedure to strengthen its integrity and transparency after the recent Qatargate corruption scandal, but Czech MEP Alexander Vondra warns that the new rules will make the work of the decent and honest ones more difficult.
The changes adopted during a plenary session last Wednesday include a ban on all activities that would constitute lobbying or accepting donations worth more than €150. MEPs will also now have to declare their income at the start and end of their mandate. Informal exchanges of views within so-called “intergroups” will be strictly regulated.
While several MEPs praised new rules, Vondra (ODS, ECR) said they go too far in some respects. “I am afraid that stricter rules for intergroups may lead to the end of many of them, especially those representing minority views in Parliament,” Vondra warned.
He also believes that some changes may negatively affect the work of MEPs. “The new rules will make the work of the decent and honest ones more difficult, while the hustlers will somehow get around them anyway,” Vondra said Euractiv.cz.
Other Czech MEPs praised the revision. Still, they agree that the rules are not all-powerful and their adoption does not automatically mean eradicating unfair practices.
“If the allegations in the Qatargate case are proven, it will be a criminal offence. And you can have all the rules you want, but if a person decides to commit a crime, the rules will not stop them from doing it,” said Czech MEP and EP’s Vice-President Dita Charanzová (Renew).
According to Vondra, a transparent approach to lobbyists is another point where the regulation is too strict. “I understand the call for compliance with the existing rules, but I am unsure whether to push the envelope so hard,” Vondra said.
“MEPs are not supposed to be officials who will document every meeting. If we demand transparency at all costs, many MEPs will not talk to lobbyists at all, just in case, and this will only have a negative impact on the results,” he added.
On the other hand, the Brussels branch of Transparency International believes the changes are insufficient and do not address the long-standing structural problems of parliamentary ethics.
(Kateřina Zichová, Aneta Zachová | Euractiv.cz)
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