March 4. 2024. 6:40

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LEAK: Former EU lawmakers to be barred from lobbying for six months


Former EU lawmakers will be banned from lobbying the European Parliament for six months after leaving the institution, as part of a revised plan, seen by EURACTIV, proposed in the wake of the Qatargate corruption scandal.

The move, which would bring the Parliament’s rules on former MEPs in line with the six month ‘cooling off’ period for former officials in the other EU institutions, is part of the proposals tabled by European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

The blueprint will be discussed at a meeting between Metsola and political group leaders – known as the Conference of Presidents – on Wednesday (8 February).

Qatargate, which has seen a handful of MEPs arrested and investigated over allegations that they received payments from the Emirati state in exchange for political support, has prompted a scramble by officials to tighten regulation and the Parliament’s internal rules.

“A ‘cooling-off’ period for former Members who wish to lobby the Parliament will be introduced. For a period of six months immediately following the end of their mandate, former members will not be allowed to lobby the institution they served,” the document says.

It also proposes that former MEPs lose their current right to a permanent parliamentary pass halts the granting of “entry to anyone else”.

A specific badge for former MEPs and ex-staff “entering [the European] Parliament as interest representatives must be identified by a specific badge” the document said.

A comparison

A first draft of the proposal was presented at the previous CoP meeting in mid-January.

The leaked draft also includes plans to increase scrutiny of special interest groups and civil society organisations dealing with the Parliament, mandatory recording of meetings and gifts to EU lawmakers, a ban on third-country ‘friendship’ groups, and total control of the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) on relations with third countries.

The document only refers to fighting corruption with third countries; there is no mention of measures related to EU member states.

MEP ‘friendship’ groups with foreign countries to be banned post-Qatargate

‘Friendship’ groups of MEPs with countries outside the EU will be banned under new plans to improve transparency in the European Parliament in the wake of the Qatargate bribery scandal.

Transparency register

More detailed is the role of the Transparency Register which would be not only a ‘register’, but also a scrutiny entity which has to verify, and perform ad hoc controls on the compliance of lobby groups and NGOs, to ensure that they remain eligible to enter, sponsor or organise events in the Parliament and to participate in the work of parliamentary committees.

“Specific provisions apply to interest representatives who do not fall within the scope of the Transparency Register [TR] and where participation in EP events would undermine the protection of the life or the integrity of the individual or when other compelling reasons of public interest require confidentiality,” the document states.

“The Secretariat of the TR will also conduct regular and random checks on the accuracy, relevance and updated status of the information provided by the organisations in the TR. The TR Secretariat should be mandated to conduct in depth checks of interest representatives to verify funding streams and connections to third countries,” the document specified.

No powers to create an Ethics Body

The Parliament proposed – in a resolution in September 2021 – the creation of an Ethics Body to deal with corruption and conflict of interests but does not have the power to do so without a formal proposal by the European Commission.

The President of the Renew Europe group Stéphane Séjourné told EURACTIV that his group will ask the CoP for a debate in the plenary session over creating an “inter-institutional Ethics Body” this afternoon.