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Centre-right EPP fails to topple EU ethics body against tight majority

The centre-right European People’s Party’s attempt to block the adoption of an agreement to create an ethics body overseeing all of the EU institutions failed

By: EBR - Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2024

While the agreement has the support of the Left, Greens, Socialists (S&D), and Liberals (Renew), the European People’s Party (EPP) submitted amendments to reject the new body, arguing that it was “poorly negotiated”. However, all of EPP’s amendments were rejected by the committee.
While the agreement has the support of the Left, Greens, Socialists (S&D), and Liberals (Renew), the European People’s Party (EPP) submitted amendments to reject the new body, arguing that it was “poorly negotiated”. However, all of EPP’s amendments were rejected by the committee.

The centre-right European People’s Party’s attempt to block the adoption of an agreement to create an ethics body overseeing all of the EU institutions failed on Monday (22 April), despite concerns about the initiative becoming a “dangerous precedent.”

The European Commission proposed the EU ethics body in June 2023 in the wake of the cash-for-influence QatarGate scandal. The body’s main aim is to develop and monitor common minimum standards of ethical conduct for all appointed or elected officials of EU institutions.

MEPs endorsed the interinstitutional agreement with seven other EU institutions, with 15 votes in favour and 12 against at Monday’s constitutional affairs committee session.

While the agreement has the support of the Left, Greens, Socialists (S&D), and Liberals (Renew), the European People’s Party (EPP) submitted amendments to reject the new body, arguing that it was “poorly negotiated”. However, all of EPP’s amendments were rejected by the committee.

The decision must now be ratified in a plenary vote on Thursday (25 April).

EPP’s reservations

“Instead of focusing on setting clear legal rules and standards, the body will individually investigate members on slippery ethics moral definition that has the potential for political abuse,” EPP lawmaker Sven Simon said after the vote on behalf of EPP.

He continued to argue that “Suspicions are published even in cases of no wrongdoing, leading to a trial by public opinion, in contrast to established due process.”

Simon also pointed out that the agreement is insufficient as the EU Council, where the representatives of member states sit, is not a full member of the body, as the ministers are not subject to it.

At the same time, the European Council, which was gathering EU leaders, rejected participation altogether.

The EPP also worries about the body being placed within the Commission, as “it risks creating a de facto disciplinary chamber for the legislative,” the parliamentarian said.

“This sets a dangerous precedent for weakening parliaments throughout the Union, and that is why we called for the establishment of standards in public office commission instead,” Simon concluded.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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