Before the European Parliament (EP) elections in 2014, Transparency International (TI EU) invited candidates to sign up to the Anti-Corruption Pledge 2014 committing to advance the anti-corruption agenda and to adhere to integrity and transparency standards in their functions as politicians. The Pledge included commitments in the three areas of (1) legislative transparency, (2) EU open budgets & procurement and (3) whistleblower protection:
(1) The governance and law-making of EU institutions will become a global model of transparency, accountability and integrity, establishing the highest standards. I/we commit to upholding both the letter and spirit of the Code of Conduct for MEPs and will publish a ‘legislative footprint’ that will be attached to any report that I am responsible for drafting in my in office.
(2) The EU will promote greater integrity and transparency in public spending. It will ensure that all information on EU funds is published in a manner that is easily accessible and usable by citizens, for example by conforming to open data principles. EU public procurement rules will take account of open contracting principles and have effective methods to deal with conflicts of interest. This applies to spending by EU and national bodies.
(3) The EU will promote initiatives and legislation that will provide effective protection to whistleblowers in the public, private and non-profit sectors. With the support of many of our chapters across the EU signatures were gathered from 502 candidates, out of which 174 were elected into the European Parliament.
EU Policy Background
The Pledge was drafted in 2014 shortly before the EP elections. A number of high profile corruption and conflict of interests cases had shaken the EU institutions involving senior decision-makers, from the Cash-for-Amendments scandal at the European Parliament to the affair surrounding European Commissioner Dalli. As a consequence, both citizens and civil society organisations were demanding a reform of the EU governance framework allowing for more transparency and democratic accountability as well as a stronger ethics framework. With the start of the new mandate, a number of new political initiatives relating to the aforementioned three different policy fields subject to the pledge in this regard were launched in the EP:
(1a) Reform of the EP Code of Conduct and ethics regime
(1b) Making EU lobbying transparent
(2) Greater integrity and transparency in public spending
(3) Protecting and supporting whistleblowers
Transparency International EU (TI EU) aims to prevent corruption and promote integrity, transparency and accountability in the EU institutions as well as in EU policies, programmes and legislation. TI EU is part of the global Transparency International movement, the leading civil society organisation in the fight against corruption around the world. TI EU works in close cooperation with the International Secretariat in Berlin and national chapters in over 100 countries around the world, including 25 in the 28 Member States of the European Union.
In 2014, we published a comprehensive assessment of the transparency, accountability and integrity of the main political institutions – the “EU Integrity System report” – and launched EU Integrity Watch, which provides detailed information on the outside activities and incomes of Members of the European Parliament, which was lately be updated to contain the 12,000 high-level meetings of EU Commission officials and lobbyists and information about EU lobby organisations from the Transparency Register. In 2015, Transparency International published the comprehensive Lobbying in Europe report providing a ranking of the 19 countries and 3 EU institutions in regard to the robustness of lobby regulation.
The long-term goal is ensure that decisions made by the European Institutions are in the public interest and, as far as possible, free from distortions as a result of conflicts of interests, corruption or undue influence by private interests. This requires both a robust integrity/ethics framework as well as active monitoring by civil society, journalists and other concerned citizens.
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