"It is vital we consider adopting a Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament", President Jerzy Buzek told the Constitutional Affairs Committee on Monday. The EP group working on new and stricter rules both for MEPs and lobbyists aims to finalise its work by the end of June.
Parliament's political leaders set up a 10-strong working group in April to prepare tighter codes of conduct for both MEPs and lobbyists after allegations of misconduct against four MEPs. President Buzek, chair of the working group, briefed Constitutional Affairs Committee MEPs on the work of the group.
"Our aim is to see what can be done on the code of conduct for outside interests – how rules could be strengthened on certain aspects, for instance regarding access to the EP", the President said.
New code of conduct for MEPs
Besides new rules for the lobbyists, MEPs themselves are set to have a stronger code of conduct. "Whilst most national parliaments have a code of conduct for Members or even more binding rules, the European Parliament has no such comprehensive framework", President Buzek pointed out, adding that "it is vital we consider also adopting a Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament."
The President told the committee that the working group is looking at the codes of conduct of national parliaments in eight EU Member States. The group has drawn up a comparative table setting out the relevant rules according to their strength, and will use this as a basis for adapting a first draft code of conduct for MEPs.
On the working methods of the group, President Buzek explained that the whole group is working on both sets of the new rules. The group meets once a week and works for 2 to 3 hours at a time. Ahead of each meeting, the President meets with the two Vice-Chairs, Diana Wallis (ALDE, UK) and Stavros Lambrinidis (S&D, EL).
Work to be finalised by June
Next week the working group will have an exchange of views with representatives of civil society institutions to gain further input for their work. "We would like to conclude our work by the end of June", President Buzek told the MEPs.
After this, the draft proposals would be submitted to Parliament's Bureau (the President and 14 Vice-Presidents) and the Conference of Presidents (leaders of Parliament's political groups). Once endorsed by these bodies, the proposals would be transmitted to the Constitutional Affairs Committee ahead of a final decision by the full Parliament.
President Buzek concluded his briefing by noting that he is "convinced that clearer guidelines for Members will help us all to better fulfil our obligations and will strengthen the confidence among citizens in our institution".