Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament
In March 2011 the British newspaper The Sunday Times landed a scoop when its journalists, posing as lobbyists, secretly filmed themselves offering bribes to four Members of the European Parliament to table amendments.
Three of the four MEPs took the bait: The Austrian member Ernst Strasser (EPP) was given a jail sentence (but not actually imprisoned); the Slovenian Zoran Thaler (S&D) resigned after investigations against him; and the Romanian Adrian Severin (S&D) was expelled from his group.
The Spanish Pablo Zalba Bidegain (EPP), against whom allegations were less clear, remained in office.
As a consequence of the scandal, the European Parliament introduced a Code of Conduct for MEPs in respect of financial interests and conflicts of interest. In many Member States' parliaments it is still legal to accept payments for tabling amendments.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens believes that such a code of conduct is essential if Parliament is to function properly as a credible democratic institution.
We argued in favour of transparency regarding conflicts of interest that can arise when MEPs are given responsibility for certain dossiers, believing that members ought to be obliged to declare any income derived from activities not related to the plenary, and that the information provided should be as precise as possible.
The same degree of transparency should apply to any gifts that MEPs receive. Moreover, the code of conduct should cover the period following members' terms as MEPs, to prevent them from deriving an unfair advantage from their former role as members of Parliament.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
The Greens succeeded in introducing better rules governing the transparency of travel expenses and gifts taking the form of travel, since accommodation and subsistence expenses were poised to be excluded from the code of conduct.
We requested that Parliament's Conference of Group Presidents clarify the rules on travel.
The Italian conservative EPP member Giuseppe Gargani tried to weaken the rules on gifts, but his oral amendment was rejected by the plenary.
Which points did the Greens lose?
In general, the Greens were satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations.
Procedure:Parliament's Rules of Procedure
Lead MEP:Carlo Casini (EPP)
Green MEP responsible:Gerald Häfner
Staff contact:Guillaume Sellier (Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?