Independent Ethics Body: presentations and debate on transparency and integrity in the EU  

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Two studies were discussed in the presence of their authors and MEPs, in a joint Constitutional Affairs and Legal Affairs Committee meeting on Thursday.

Dr Christoph Demmke, Professor of Public Management, University of Vaasa, Finland, presented "Conflict of interest policies: effectiveness and best practice in Europe". He argued that the tendency to expand existing policies has proven to be ineffective, urging for less self-regulation and underlining the need for an independent, external and depoliticised body with sanctions capabilities. Dr Markus Frischuut, Professor, Jean Monnet Chair “EU Values & DIGitalization for our CommuNITY (DIGNITY)”, at MCI / The Entrepreneurial School, Innsbruck, Austria, spoke on "Strengthening transparency and integrity in the EU institutions by setting up an independent EU ethics body". He pointed out that scandals have reduced citizens’ trust in the EU and proposed a new interinstitutional agreement to consolidate and expand existing mechanisms.

Most MEPs who took the floor agreed on the need for an independent ethics body and will be looking forward to the draft report by rapporteur Daniel Freund (Greens/EFA, DE), and the opinion by Stéphane Séjourné (Renew, FR). Some questioned were raised on the feasibility of the authors’ proposals, drawing attention to the envisioned body’s structure, membership and scope. Other discussion topics included accessibility recommendations, investigations of conflict of interest allegations of Commissioners, how oversight for a range of codes of conduct would materialise, and the authority of the IEB to enforce sanctions. Many wondered how it would establish conflicts of interest without access to tax, law and asset documents.

You can catch up with the recorded meeting here.

Find here the full agenda of the meeting and other useful documents.