Home Featured EU politicians agree to play by the same ethics rules – POLITICO
EU politicians agree to play by the same ethics rules – POLITICO

EU politicians agree to play by the same ethics rules – POLITICO

by host

The friendly signing ceremony at the Commission’s Berlaymont HQ on Wednesday belied wrangling and resistance as co-legislators debated just how much oversight they were willing to cede — fights that are unlikely to go away in 2025, when the ethics body actually sets about publishing baseline standards for political integrity.

The agreement is set to enter into force on June 6, the first day of voting in the EU election, said Věra Jourová, the Commission vice president in charge of the file.

Under the agreement, eight EU institutions — including the Parliament, the Commission, and the Council of the EU — would nominate members to sit on the panel. Together, they would set baseline standards on matters such as disclosing assets and taking post-mandate jobs in the private sector. Five independent experts would also sit on the panel, and they could be called upon to help an institution weigh officials’ potential conflicts of interest. But the ethics body doesn’t have the authority to investigate individual cases, and it can’t mete out sanctions when behavior falls short of the standards.   

The agreement is “a strong, a timely, and a common message to our citizens,” said Willem van de Voorde, Belgium’s top EU envoy, saying it would create a “common culture of ethical conduct” across the institutions.

Yet the Council of the EU has hedged on the extent to which national officials would be subject to common standards while they hold the rotating Council presidency. And the European Council presidency — currently held by former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel — did not join the other eight relevant institutions.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, a strong advocate of the ethics body in the wake of Qatargate, acknowledged that the agreement is just a “starting point.” MEPs are sharply divided along partisan lines, with Metsola’s own European People’s Party mounting forceful and persistent objections to surrendering elected lawmakers’ independence to a bureaucratic panel.

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