Over-reliance on public pressure to clear conflicts of interest

Publication date: 
jeudi, April 19, 2012
Gaspard Sebag
Media title: 

In March 2011, four MEPs were accused of accepting to table amendments for ‘clients’ after having been told by undercover reporters from The Sunday Times that such work would be compensated with money. Nine months later, Parliament took a step toward cleaning the dust in its house.


Parliament relies mostly on public pressure for a deputy to quit the contentious employment.

A look at all the committee chairs in Parliament shows that Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, Germany) is a lawyer and partner at international law firm Taylor Wessing and he also chairs the EP’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). Thanks to this extra work, Lehne earns over €10,000 on top of his salary as a deputy. Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany), who recently took over the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), is an advisor at Bertelsmann AG, a multinational media corporation, which owns among others the RTL Group. This second employment guarantees him extra income: between €5,001-10,000 per month.

Natacha Cingotti from the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) wonders whether the new code of conduct is being taken seriously, particularly in light of the fact that several MEPs did not fill in the declaration of financial interests on time. Among the committee chairs, Danuta Hübner (EPP, Poland) from Regional Development (REGI) missed the end-of-March deadline by a few days. An EP official says that nearly one third of parliamentarians were late. Not having been able to obtain information about the monitoring of all 754 declarations of financial interests, Europolitics proceeded to a quick scan of the 73-strong British contingent of MEPs: at least nine (12%) declarations of financial interests were received by Parliament’s services after the end-of-March deadline.