We, the undersigned, are civil society organisations who actively advocate for greater transparency, integrity and accountability at EU level. We are writing this letter to express our utmost concern over the current state of negotiations of the Constitutional Affairs Committee own-initiative report on the establishment of an Independent EU Ethics Body.
Ethics scandals involving elected and unelected officials of the European institutions have consistently highlighted the inability of the current self-regulatory system to uphold the codes of conduct and ethical norms. Recurrent scandals related to conflicts of interest, outside activities, disregard for cooling off periods, demonstrate a severe lack of scrutiny and responsibility which damages the reputation of the EU institutions, staff and policy-makers. The self-policing of the institutions has resulted in a system devoid of sanctions for ethical breaches involving former and present Commissioners as well as MEPs. For instance, for the last half decade, 27 MEPs have been investigated for ethical breaches and despite some being found to have been in breach of ethical violations, there have been no sanctions. That’s why we welcomed the announcement of the creation of an independent ethics body common to all EU institutions in President Von der Leyen’s political guidelines in 2019.
We believe the creation of an independent EU Ethics Body is necessary to ensure a legitimate system of checks and balances that is on par with international best practices of good governance. To properly address the current shortcomings of the current EU ethical framework, such a body must meet three tests. It must:
The creation of a new EU ethics body without these fundamental elements would not be effective in preventing future scandals. We are alarmed to see, therefore, that the proposals currently on the table would not address any of these key points. Instead, they would merely end up creating another toothless tiger.
We cannot support the proposal as it stands. We strongly urge you to reconsider your approach.
Transparency International EU
Transparency International France
Transparency International Germany
Amis de la Terre France
Corporate Europe Observatory
The Good Lobby
27 January 2021