The Conference of Presidents (made up of the EP President and the political group leaders) has approved unanimously a new Code of Conduct for members of the European Parliament. The Code sets out rules and principles which MEPs will need to follow in their contacts with outside interests and to avoid conflicts of interest.
EP President Jerzy Buzek said: "We are constructing a strong shield against any unethical behaviour. The work was done in record time, just 10 weeks. We now have a strong proposal for the first-ever Code of Conduct for the European Parliament. The proposals set high standards at the European Parliament."
The code's guiding principle is transparency. MEPs will have to provide clear declarations of their paid activities outside Parliament and their remuneration, as well as of other functions which might constitute a conflict of interest. The code also contains an explicit ban on receiving payments or other rewards in exchange for influencing parliamentary decisions. There are clear rules on the acceptance of gifts and on the position of former MEPs working as lobbyists.
An Advisory Committee will provide guidance to MEPs and advise the President on what steps to take in the event of alleged breaches of the Code. Possible sanctions range from a reprimand to withholding daily allowances or removal from posts held within the Parliament. Any such sanctions will be published on Parliament's website.
Thursday's decision followed the earlier unanimous recommendation of the Bureau that the Code be approved. The Conference of Presidents has referred the Code to the Constitutional Affairs Committee in view of a subsequent vote by the whole Parliament to bring it into force.
The Bureau Working Group, which drew up the draft Code, took inspiration from the best practices of a number of national parliaments.