Following the QatarGate scandal, there might be movement on the transparency front, as politico also wrote today.
I am of course happy that there finally might be a political will to do something on this field. However, I also must say that I honestly think it is a scandal, that it took a scandal to get here.
I also must say that I honestly think it is a scandal, that it took a scandal to get here
This, I say not just to ride the wave of what is in the media today, but because it is scandal that comes after many attempts to reform the rules. From the Left we, as others, have for a long time called for reforms, including on some of the points raised by Metsola according to the media. This includes points such as dealing with revolving doors and disclosing meetings relating to our work.
When dealing with the issue we really must remember that transparency campaigners and many MEPs have been calling for these things for many years, but the larger political groups have always blocked most of the meaningful reforms. I truly hope they will now change their mind.
The Conference of Presidents of course have not yet met on this topic, but I honestly fear that what we end up seeing will still be way too weak. Call me a pessimist if you must, but the EU-Parliament record of accomplishment on transparency is depressingly weak.
Call me a pessimist if you must, but the EU-Parliament record of accomplishment on transparency is depressingly weak
Following the debate and proposals on reform, it is strange to me, if there is no call to benchmark with the best parliamentary transparency rules out there, both in Europe and abroad. Because, why not have that?
We must recognise that in some aspects, we lag behind countries like the UK and the US. In the US, those lobbying for foreign governments for instance already have to declare it, but this is the case in Brussels or the European Parliament. In the UK, MPs declare in more detail what they receive as gifts, including travels. That this is useful is underlined by Politico, which already in December was able to make a list of the Members of the House of Commons who had received gifts and hospitality from Qatar – and for how much.
Other countries may have better rules governing the same or other aspects of transparency, and I quite simply cannot comprehend why we do not try to take the best-working rules from other systems, and put them in place in Brussels?
I quite simply cannot comprehend why we do not try to take the best-working rules from other systems, and put them in place in Brussels?
In the same way, there is international work on transparency that can and should be taken into account, and unless there is a fundamental change in the mind-set in the European Parliament, we should ask for help. Those we ask should include those that, in some cases for decades, have been pointing out the flaws in our system and the ways to fix them.
In other words, we should not be afraid to call in the professionals. Just as we would, if it related to many other matters.
Honestly, I fear that unless something completely unexpected happens at the Conference of Presidents, and unless everybody pushes for tough and real reforms, this issue will continue to haunt us. More than that, we will most likely still lag behind those we should be comparing us with, and that is, to put it plainly, not acceptable.