24 MAR 2011
By Andrew Willis
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A leading anti-corruption campaigner and acting MEP has said the European Parliament must substantially overhaul its rules following the latest corruption scandal, including an end to the practice of MEPs holding additional jobs.
In future, European deputies should be banned from all other paid activities, centre-right MEP Monica Macovei told EUobserver in a telephone interview on Wednesday (23 March).
"MEPs have five years in the European parliament to legislate for EU citizens. It's a full-time job and I don't see why they should have another one in parallel," Macovei said.
"We have salaries, we are paid to do this," added the former Romanian minister of justice (2004-2007) who won international plaudits for her efforts to root out high level corruption, including when cabinet colleagues were implicated.
Under currently parliamentary rules, MEPs can engage in a wide range of paid activities in addition to their legislative duties, so long as they are declared in the register of members' financial interests.
"An MEP who speaks in a meeting of a parliamentary body on a subject in which they have a direct financial interest must declare that interest orally at that point," says parliamentary spokesman Jaume Duch.
An undercover investigation by the Sunday Times suggests that at least three MEPs were willing to file legislative amendments in return for money from fake lobbyists however, with reports suggesting more MEPs are set to be exposed in the coming days.
Austrian centre-right euro-deputy Ernst Strasser and Slovenian Socialist Zoran Thaler have since resigned, while Romanian Socialist MEP Adrian Severin has been expelled from parliament's Socialist group. All three have denied wrongdoing.
Severin is a former deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, and was a contender for the EU's foreign policy job of high representative, eventually handed to Catherine Ashton.
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