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Stop Revolving doors

La questione delle “porte girevoli” è legata all’organo etico dell’UE

The issue of revolving door is related to the EU Ethics Body. Nevertheless, these two issues are parallel because with the existence of the EU Ethics Body, current rules will not change, and we have serious concerns about the rules themselves. These rules need to continue to progress.

As Mr Freund already mentioned, in 2017 TI EU did an assessment of the MEPs who left in 2014 and 30% of them had moved to work for organisations registered in the EU Transparency Register. This is concerning if we think that in the Discharge report for the Parliament, conducted by European Parliament Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT), there is written that of the 459 MPs that left in the 2019 there was one notification under the Code of Conduct. If we compare to our 2014 study, there is a big disparity between the numbers.

There are several problems across the institutions. One of them is that there are different bodies for the Parliament and Commission. In addition, there are different rules for staff, APAs etc. Concerning revolving doors there are different rules and for MEPs only a notification is requested but this is not an obligation.  In addition to that, there is no follow up by the Parliament services.

In the Discharge report 2019, it was asked to the Secretary General of the Parliament to conduct an independent study asking whether post employment activities of MEPs could create conflict of interests. This has not been done. The reply of the Parliament is that they do not have the power (and here the question is who has it) and that they gave trainings on that, but the study was not done. It is concerning that calls by the plenary of the Parliament are not being taken on board by the Parliament Services. Concretely, we would like this study to be done.

We would also like to see rules on revolving doors for MEPs, as for staff, APAs and so on. Here the question is how long a cooling off period should be. For example, the President of the Commission has three years, APAs have two years (if they were at the Parliament for five years). For MEPs, we would recommend a cooling off period as long as they receive a transitional allowance.

A connected point to revolving doors is of course, lobbying. Policy makers leaving the Institutions that are hired by organisations registered in the transparency register should be declared in the respective entries. GDPR should not be used as a reason to prevent the public from knowing this is type of information, even more if this is voluntarily done.

Another issue related to revolving doors is the publication of meetings with lobbyists. In this there are two main points:

  • First, we advocated long that unregistered lobbyists should not be able to meet MEPs (as it is the case for the highest levels of the Commission). The legal services of the Parliament claimed that this would go against the freedom of mandate. Such a stance puts into question the function of the Register itself, as if registration is not a prerequisite for meeting policy-makers, why register?
  • Second, is the publication of meetings. Only MEPs with specific functions, like rapporteur, shadows and Committee Chairs are required to publish their lobbying meetings. For all others, it is voluntary. a study which we are now conducting, it appears that in the last years the number of MEPs publishing has actually decreased. Now, less than 50% of MEPs have published at least one meeting.  The current system of obligation for some MEPs and voluntary approach for others is unnecessarily complicated and leads to confusion.

The above two points put into question any policy on revolving doors, as it leaves the possibility that former policy-makers of any level, lobby former colleagues and friends without any requirements and no public knowledge. The system would be more effective and efficient if any meeting with only registered lobbyists could meet with MEPs, APAs and Policy advisers and these would be published. Until a change in the rules is possible, we call on the expansion of the current IT system of the Parliament to allow all APAs and policy advisers that wish to do so, to publish their meetings as well


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