Civil Society Europe, as the coordination for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Europe, firmly condemns the recent allegations of corruption concerning Qatar and Morocco involving members of the European Parliament and staff and calls on shedding full light to this case through ongoing and future investigations and follow up judicial proceedings.
As CSOs, we are often asked to comply with high standards of transparency and accountability for our financial and advocacy-related activities; and this is perfectly in line with democratic societies. But it is appalling to see that the same standards do not seem to apply to European institutions.
Civil society organisations have for decades been on the forefront of denouncing the lack of action by EU institutions to address corruption and lack of transparency.
Therefore, we welcome the calls of the resolution which include: reform of the Parliament’s lobbying rules – including representatives of third countries in the EU lobby register, an independent EU ethics body, disclosure of assets by MEPs, cool down periods for MEPs, and disclosure of their assets at the beginning and end of their mandate as a first positive step, on which also all other EU institutions should engage.
However, we are extremely worried about select voices among Members and Political Groups of the European Parliament that attempted to shift the balance of responsibility in this case from the EU institutions and its members to civil society and impose disproportionate provisions to CSOs, as this could undermine their role as checks and balances to the rule of law.
In many EU countries, and beyond, Civil Society Organisations that act as watchdogs are victims of reprisal and smear campaigns by authorities as documented by EU reports. This also coincides with the creation of Gongos, complicit of Governments or companies.
In our watchdog role, we will continue to work so as to ensure that the European Parliament fully plays its role “to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically” and to strive towards the common good.
Please read here our full statement.