The European Commission has raised this Thursday the creation of a unified ethical body for the European institutions with the aim that the European Union has common standards in the operation of its main institutions, a step that comes after the scandal generated by the plot of bribes from Qatar and Morocco in the European Parliament.
In her presentation at a press conference from Brussels, the vice president responsible for Transparency and Values, Vera Jourova, stressed that the body will close the gap between “different and opaque standards”. “I want the standards to be high, clear and that they apply to all institutions,” he has defended.
The Brussels initiative refers to eight European institutions. In addition, from the European Commission itself, the measure is proposed to the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, the Court of Justice of the EU, the European Central Bank, the European Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, opening the door for other institutions such as the European Investment Bank to join the agreement once it enters into force.
In any case, the implementation of this body will require an inter-institutional agreement from all of them. That is why Jourova has convened a first political meeting of its leaders at the beginning of July that will serve to kick off the negotiations.
The idea is that the members of these EU institutions are subject to common, clear, transparent and understandable rules, in areas such as the acceptance of gifts, trips, prizes and decorations or transparency measures to hold meetings with representatives of lobbies, in a proposal to extend to other institutions the transparency registry that already operates in the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
The newly minted body aspires to establish rules for a unified criterion on the declaration of interests and assets and the processes to follow in these declarations; to shed clarity on the external activities allowed for members of an institution and to set requirements and conditions for the activities of former representatives of the institutions once they leave office.
The rules established by this ethical body will be legally binding, and each institution will have to apply the standards in its internal rules, indicated Jourova, who has insisted that this includes the practical application of unified sanctions in cases of violation of the codes.
The ultimate goal, argued the Czech commissioner, is to promote a common ethical culture that makes it possible to improve transparency in the functioning of the institutions, both for its members and for the public.
(Preferred image source: Emmanuel Burdin, Unsplash)