BETA


2016/2080(INI) Commissioners' declarations of interests - Guidelines

Progress: Procedure completed

RoleCommitteeRapporteurShadows
Lead JURI DURAND Pascal (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE) ZWIEFKA Tadeusz (icon: PPE PPE), REGNER Evelyn (icon: S&D S&D), DZHAMBAZKI Angel (icon: ECR ECR), CAVADA Jean-Marie (icon: ALDE ALDE), CHRYSOGONOS Kostas (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL)
Committee Opinion CONT GRÄSSLE Ingeborg (icon: PPE PPE) Inés AYALA SENDER (icon: S&D S&D), Dennis de JONG (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL), Marco VALLI (icon: EFDD EFDD)
Lead committee dossier:
Legal Basis:
RoP 54

Events

2016/12/01
   EP - Results of vote in Parliament
2016/12/01
   EP - Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
Details

The European Parliament adopted by 615 votes to 5 with 6 abstentions a resolution on Commissioners’ declarations of interests – guidelines.

Parliament recalled that one of the pillars of European governance is the strengthening of ethics and transparency within the EU institutions in order to improve European citizens’ trust in them.

In its resolution of 8 September 2015 , Parliament deemed it important for the Committee on Legal Affairs to issue guidelines in the form of recommendations or an own-initiative report, with a view to facilitating reform of the procedures relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests, while calling on the Commission to revise its rules relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests .

The resolution recalled that the aim of scrutinising Commissioners' declarations of financial interests is to ensure that the Commissioners-designate are able to fulfil their mandates completely independently and to ensure maximum transparency and accountability on the part of the Commission.

It also noted that a conflict of interests is defined as ‘any interference situation between a public interest and public and private interests that is likely to affect or that appears likely to affect the independent, impartial and objective exercise of a duty’.

While confirming that the Committee on Legal Affairs is competent and responsible for carrying out a substantive analysis of the declarations of financial interests by means of an in-depth examination aimed at assessing whether the content of the declaration made by a Commissioner-designate is accurate and conforms to the criteria and principles laid down in the Treaties and the code of conduct, or whether a conflict of interests may be inferred and that it must be able to propose to the President of the Commission the replacement of that Commissioner.

Parliament considered it essential that the Committee on Legal Affairs has enough time to ensure that this detailed assessment is effective and also be granted the right to continue with the hearing if it sees a conflict.

Parliament focused on more technical issues such as the procedure for scrutinising declarations of financial interests before the hearings of the Commissioners-designate . In this regard, Parliament proposed a series of guidelines which should be applied when the declarations of financial interests are scrutinised by the Committee on Legal Affairs.

Members considered that any change in the financial interests of a Commissioner during her/his term of office or any reshuffling of the allocation of responsibilities between Members of the Commission constitutes a new situation in terms of the possible existence of a conflict of interests. In more serious cases, if no other recommendation is able to provide for a solution to the conflict of interests, as the last resort, the committee responsible for legal affairs can conclude on the inability of Commissioner-designate to exercise his/her functions .

In the event of a conflict of interests being identified during a Commissioner's term of office and of the President of the Commission not following Parliament's recommendations for resolving the conflict of interests, the Committee on Legal Affairs may recommend that Parliament ask the President of the Commission to withdraw confidence in that Commissioner.

Parliament also recalled the provisions of the code of conduct for Commissioners regarding impartiality, integrity, transparency, diligence, probity, responsibility and discretion. Moreover, it considered that the family interests referred to in point 1.6 of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners should be included in the declarations of financial interests. In order to extend and improve the rules on conflicts of interest, the declarations of interests should also include the details of any contractual relation of the Commissioners-designate which might create a conflict of interests in the performance of their duties.

Members deplored that the code of conduct:

fails to codify adequately the requirement under Article 245 TFEU that ‘both during and after their term of office, Commissioners will respect the obligations, in particular their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits’; fails to lay down any divestment requirements, despite the fact that such requirements must be standard in any ethics regime; does not stipulate any concrete time frame for submission of the declaration prior to Parliament’s hearing of the Commissioners-designate.

Parliament deplored that the Commission does not report regularly on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, in particular as regards their declarations of interests.

Ex-Commissioners : Parliament pointed out that all ex-Commissioners are banned for 18 months from lobbying ‘members of the European Commission and their staff for his/her business, client, or employer on matters for which they have been responsible’, but are entitled to a very generous transitional allowance after they leave the Commission of between 40 and 65 per cent of their final basic salary for three years.

Code of conduct for Commissioners : although overall Parliament welcomed the fact that the code of conduct has introduced a provision concerning the reallocation of files between Members of the Commission in the event of potential conflicts of interest, they called for improvements in certain areas. it called on the Commission to revise, as a matter of urgency, the 2011 Code of Conduct for Commissioners to take account of the recommendations made by Parliament and with a view to ensuring:

that Commissioners declare all their financial interests , including assets and liabilities over EUR 10 000 but also all their interests (as shareholders, company board members, advisors and consultants, members of associated foundations, close family interests as well as membership of any non-governmental organisations, secret societies or associations which conceal their existence; that Commissioners-designate submit their declarations within a specific time frame and sufficiently well in advance, so that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee can submit to Parliament its views on potential conflicts of interests well in time for the hearings in Parliament; that the declaration is published in a format which is compatible with open data so that it can be easily processed via databases; that the code of conduct be amended, in line with Article 245 TFEU, to extend Commissioners’ post-office employment restriction to a period of at least three years and not shorter than the length of time during which former Commissioners are eligible for a transitional allowance as defined in Regulation No 422/67/EEC; that the Commission reports on an annual basis on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners and that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee draws up and publishes an annual report on its activities, which may include any recommendations on the improvement of the Code of Conduct.

Lastly, Parliament called on the Commission to begin negotiations with Parliament aimed at making any necessary changes to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Documents
2016/12/01
   EP - End of procedure in Parliament
2016/11/30
   EP - Debate in Parliament
2016/10/31
   EP - Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
Details

The Committee on Legal Affairs adopted an own-initiative report by Pascal DURAND (Greens/ EFA, FR) on Commissioners’ declarations of interests – guidelines.

Members recalled that one of the pillars of European governance is the strengthening of ethics and transparency within the EU institutions in order to improve European citizens’ trust in them.

In its resolution of 8 September 2015 , Parliament deemed it important for the Committee on Legal Affairs to issue guidelines in the form of recommendations or an own-initiative report, with a view to facilitating reform of the procedures relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests, while calling on the Commission to revise its rules relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests .

The report recalled that the aim of scrutinising Commissioners' declarations of financial interests is to ensure that the Commissioners-designate are able to fulfil their mandates completely independently and to ensure maximum transparency and accountability on the part of the Commission.

It also noted that a conflict of interests is defined as ‘any interference situation between a public interest and public and private interests that is likely to affect or that appears likely to affect the independent, impartial and objective exercise of a duty’.

While confirming that the Committee on Legal Affairs is competent and responsible for carrying out a substantive analysis of the declarations of financial interests by means of an in-depth examination aimed at assessing whether the content of the declaration made by a Commissioner-designate is accurate and conforms to the criteria and principles laid down in the Treaties and the code of conduct, or whether a conflict of interests may be inferred, Members considered it essential that the Committee on Legal Affairs has enough time to ensure that this detailed assessment is effective.

Members focused on more technical issues such as the procedure for scrutinising declarations of financial interests before the hearings of the Commissioners-designate . In this regard, the initiative report proposed a series of guidelines which should be applied when the declarations of financial interests are scrutinised by the Committee on Legal Affairs.

Members considered that any change in the financial interests of a Commissioner during her/his term of office or any reshuffling of the allocation of responsibilities between Members of the Commission constitutes a new situation in terms of the possible existence of a conflict of interests. This situation should be subject to scrutiny by Parliament. In more serious cases, if no other recommendation is able to provide for a solution to the conflict of interests, as the last resort, the committee responsible for legal affairs can conclude on the inability of Commissioner-designate to exercise his/her functions .

In the event of a conflict of interests being identified during a Commissioner's term of office and of the President of the Commission not following Parliament's recommendations for resolving the conflict of interests, the Committee on Legal Affairs may recommend that Parliament ask the President of the Commission to withdraw confidence in that Commissioner.

Members recalled the provisions of the code of conduct for Commissioners regarding impartiality, integrity, transparency, diligence, probity, responsibility and discretion. Moreover, Members considered that the family interests referred to in point 1.6 of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners should be included in the declarations of financial interests. In order to extend and improve the rules on conflicts of interest, the declarations of interests should also include the details of any contractual relation of the Commissioners-designate which might create a conflict of interests in the performance of their duties.

Members deplored that the code of conduct:

fails to codify adequately the requirement under Article 245 TFEU that ‘both during and after their term of office, Commissioners will respect the obligations, in particular their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits’; fails to lay down any divestment requirements, despite the fact that such requirements must be standard in any ethics regime; does not stipulate any concrete time frame for submission of the declaration prior to Parliament’s hearing of the Commissioners-designate.

They deplored that the Commission does not report regularly on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, in particular as regards their declarations of interests.

Code of conduct for Commissioners : although overall Members welcomed the fact that the code of conduct has introduced a provision concerning the reallocation of files between Members of the Commission in the event of potential conflicts of interest, they called for improvements in the following areas.

They called on the Commission to revise, as a matter of urgency, the 2011 Code of Conduct for Commissioners to take account of the recommendations made by Parliament and with a view to ensuring:

that Commissioners declare all their financial interests , including assets and liabilities over EUR 10 000 but also all their interests (as shareholders, company board members, advisors and consultants, members of associated foundations, close family interests as well as membership of any non-governmental organisations, secret societies or associations which conceal their existence; that Commissioners-designate submit their declarations within a specific time frame and sufficiently well in advance, so that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee can submit to Parliament its views on potential conflicts of interests well in time for the hearings in Parliament; that the declaration is published in a format which is compatible with open data so that it can be easily processed via databases; that the Commission reports on an annual basis on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners and that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee draws up and publishes an annual report on its activities, which may include any recommendations on the improvement of the Code of Conduct.

Lastly, Members called on the Commission to begin negotiations with Parliament aimed at making any necessary changes to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Documents
2016/10/13
   EP - Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading
2016/09/28
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2016/09/14
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2016/08/23
   EP - Committee draft report
Documents
2016/05/24
   EP - GRÄSSLE Ingeborg (PPE) appointed as rapporteur in CONT
2016/05/12
   EP - Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
2016/03/15
   EP - DURAND Pascal (Verts/ALE) appointed as rapporteur in JURI

Documents

Activities

Votes

A8-0315/2016 - Pascal Durand - Am 1

2016/12/01 Outcome: +: 623, 0: 5, -: 3
DE IT FR GB PL ES NL RO BE PT EL CZ AT BG SE HU FI SK HR LT IE DK LV SI EE MT LU CY
Total
81
64
59
55
48
42
23
24
20
18
18
17
17
16
16
16
13
12
11
9
9
9
7
7
6
6
4
4
icon: PPE PPE
185

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg PPE

2
icon: S&D S&D
165

Netherlands S&D

2
3

Croatia S&D

2

Ireland S&D

For (1)

1

Latvia S&D

1

Slovenia S&D

For (1)

1

Estonia S&D

For (1)

1

Malta S&D

Abstain (1)

3

Cyprus S&D

2
icon: ALDE ALDE
63

United Kingdom ALDE

1

Romania ALDE

3

Austria ALDE

For (1)

1

Sweden ALDE

2

Croatia ALDE

2

Ireland ALDE

For (1)

1

Latvia ALDE

1

Slovenia ALDE

For (1)

1

Estonia ALDE

3

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1
icon: ECR ECR
60

Italy ECR

2

Netherlands ECR

2

Romania ECR

For (1)

1

Belgium ECR

3

Greece ECR

For (1)

1

Czechia ECR

2

Bulgaria ECR

2
2

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

Latvia ECR

For (1)

1

Cyprus ECR

1
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
40
4

United Kingdom Verts/ALE

5

Netherlands Verts/ALE

2

Belgium Verts/ALE

2

Austria Verts/ALE

3

Sweden Verts/ALE

3

Hungary Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Finland Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Croatia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Lithuania Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Latvia Verts/ALE

1

Estonia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

For (1)

1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
36

France GUE/NGL

2

United Kingdom GUE/NGL

1

Netherlands GUE/NGL

3

Portugal GUE/NGL

3

Czechia GUE/NGL

2

Sweden GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Finland GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Ireland GUE/NGL

3

Denmark GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Cyprus GUE/NGL

1
icon: EFDD EFDD
34

Germany EFDD

1

France EFDD

1

Poland EFDD

1

Sweden EFDD

2

Lithuania EFDD

For (1)

1
icon: ENF ENF
34

Germany ENF

For (1)

1

United Kingdom ENF

For (1)

1
2

Netherlands ENF

3

Romania ENF

1

Belgium ENF

For (1)

1
icon: NI NI
14

Germany NI

1

Italy NI

1

France NI

2

United Kingdom NI

For (1)

Abstain (2)

3

Poland NI

1

Hungary NI

For (1)

1

A8-0315/2016 - Pascal Durand - Résolution

2016/12/01 Outcome: +: 615, 0: 6, -: 5
DE IT FR GB PL ES RO BE NL CZ BG PT SE AT HU FI SK HR IE EL DK LT SI LV MT LU EE CY
Total
80
65
57
54
47
42
24
21
21
17
16
18
16
16
16
13
12
11
10
18
9
8
8
7
6
5
5
4
icon: PPE PPE
183

Luxembourg PPE

2

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1
icon: S&D S&D
162

Netherlands S&D

2
3

Croatia S&D

2

Ireland S&D

For (1)

1

Lithuania S&D

1

Slovenia S&D

For (1)

1

Latvia S&D

1

Malta S&D

3

Luxembourg S&D

For (1)

1

Estonia S&D

For (1)

1

Cyprus S&D

2
icon: ALDE ALDE
63

United Kingdom ALDE

1

Romania ALDE

3

Sweden ALDE

2

Austria ALDE

For (1)

1

Croatia ALDE

2

Ireland ALDE

For (1)

1

Slovenia ALDE

For (1)

1

Latvia ALDE

1

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1

Estonia ALDE

3
icon: ECR ECR
60

Italy ECR

2

Romania ECR

For (1)

1

Netherlands ECR

2

Czechia ECR

2

Bulgaria ECR

2
2

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

Greece ECR

For (1)

1

Latvia ECR

For (1)

1

Cyprus ECR

1
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
38
4

United Kingdom Verts/ALE

4

Belgium Verts/ALE

2

Netherlands Verts/ALE

2

Sweden Verts/ALE

3

Austria Verts/ALE

3

Hungary Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Finland Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Croatia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Lithuania Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Slovenia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Latvia Verts/ALE

1

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

For (1)

1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
38

France GUE/NGL

2

United Kingdom GUE/NGL

1

Netherlands GUE/NGL

3

Czechia GUE/NGL

2

Portugal GUE/NGL

For (1)

3

Sweden GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Finland GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Denmark GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Cyprus GUE/NGL

1
icon: EFDD EFDD
34

Germany EFDD

1

France EFDD

1

Poland EFDD

1

Sweden EFDD

2

Lithuania EFDD

For (1)

1
icon: ENF ENF
34

Germany ENF

For (1)

1

United Kingdom ENF

For (1)

1
2

Romania ENF

1

Belgium ENF

For (1)

1

Netherlands ENF

3
icon: NI NI
14

Germany NI

Against (1)

1

Italy NI

1

France NI

2

United Kingdom NI

For (1)

Abstain (2)

3

Poland NI

1

Hungary NI

For (1)

1
AmendmentsDossier
137 2016/2080(INI)
2016/09/06 CONT 67 amendments...
source: 587.803
2016/09/14 JURI 70 amendments...
source: 589.251

History

(these mark the time of scraping, not the official date of the change)

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  • date: 2016-10-13T00:00:00 body: EP type: Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading committees: body: EP responsible: False committee: CONT date: 2016-05-24T00:00:00 committee_full: Budgetary Control rapporteur: group: EPP name: GRÄSSLE Ingeborg body: EP shadows: group: EPP name: ZWIEFKA Tadeusz group: S&D name: REGNER Evelyn group: ECR name: DZHAMBAZKI Angel group: ALDE name: CAVADA Jean-Marie group: GUE/NGL name: CHRYSOGONOS Kostas responsible: True committee: JURI date: 2016-03-15T00:00:00 committee_full: Legal Affairs rapporteur: group: Verts/ALE name: DURAND Pascal
  • date: 2016-10-31T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A8-2016-0315&language=EN type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading title: A8-0315/2016 body: EP type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
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  • date: 2016-12-01T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P8-TA-2016-0477 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading title: T8-0477/2016 body: EP type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
commission
  • body: EC dg: European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) commissioner: GEORGIEVA Kristalina
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docs
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  • date: 2016-09-14T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE589.251 title: PE589.251 type: Amendments tabled in committee body: EP
  • date: 2016-09-28T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE584.123&secondRef=03 title: PE584.123 committee: CONT type: Committee opinion body: EP
events
  • date: 2016-05-12T00:00:00 type: Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading body: EP
  • date: 2016-10-13T00:00:00 type: Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading body: EP
  • date: 2016-10-31T00:00:00 type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A8-2016-0315&language=EN title: A8-0315/2016 summary: The Committee on Legal Affairs adopted an own-initiative report by Pascal DURAND (Greens/ EFA, FR) on Commissioners’ declarations of interests – guidelines. Members recalled that one of the pillars of European governance is the strengthening of ethics and transparency within the EU institutions in order to improve European citizens’ trust in them. In its resolution of 8 September 2015 , Parliament deemed it important for the Committee on Legal Affairs to issue guidelines in the form of recommendations or an own-initiative report, with a view to facilitating reform of the procedures relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests, while calling on the Commission to revise its rules relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests . The report recalled that the aim of scrutinising Commissioners' declarations of financial interests is to ensure that the Commissioners-designate are able to fulfil their mandates completely independently and to ensure maximum transparency and accountability on the part of the Commission. It also noted that a conflict of interests is defined as ‘any interference situation between a public interest and public and private interests that is likely to affect or that appears likely to affect the independent, impartial and objective exercise of a duty’. While confirming that the Committee on Legal Affairs is competent and responsible for carrying out a substantive analysis of the declarations of financial interests by means of an in-depth examination aimed at assessing whether the content of the declaration made by a Commissioner-designate is accurate and conforms to the criteria and principles laid down in the Treaties and the code of conduct, or whether a conflict of interests may be inferred, Members considered it essential that the Committee on Legal Affairs has enough time to ensure that this detailed assessment is effective. Members focused on more technical issues such as the procedure for scrutinising declarations of financial interests before the hearings of the Commissioners-designate . In this regard, the initiative report proposed a series of guidelines which should be applied when the declarations of financial interests are scrutinised by the Committee on Legal Affairs. Members considered that any change in the financial interests of a Commissioner during her/his term of office or any reshuffling of the allocation of responsibilities between Members of the Commission constitutes a new situation in terms of the possible existence of a conflict of interests. This situation should be subject to scrutiny by Parliament. In more serious cases, if no other recommendation is able to provide for a solution to the conflict of interests, as the last resort, the committee responsible for legal affairs can conclude on the inability of Commissioner-designate to exercise his/her functions . In the event of a conflict of interests being identified during a Commissioner's term of office and of the President of the Commission not following Parliament's recommendations for resolving the conflict of interests, the Committee on Legal Affairs may recommend that Parliament ask the President of the Commission to withdraw confidence in that Commissioner. Members recalled the provisions of the code of conduct for Commissioners regarding impartiality, integrity, transparency, diligence, probity, responsibility and discretion. Moreover, Members considered that the family interests referred to in point 1.6 of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners should be included in the declarations of financial interests. In order to extend and improve the rules on conflicts of interest, the declarations of interests should also include the details of any contractual relation of the Commissioners-designate which might create a conflict of interests in the performance of their duties. Members deplored that the code of conduct: fails to codify adequately the requirement under Article 245 TFEU that ‘both during and after their term of office, Commissioners will respect the obligations, in particular their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits’; fails to lay down any divestment requirements, despite the fact that such requirements must be standard in any ethics regime; does not stipulate any concrete time frame for submission of the declaration prior to Parliament’s hearing of the Commissioners-designate. They deplored that the Commission does not report regularly on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, in particular as regards their declarations of interests. Code of conduct for Commissioners : although overall Members welcomed the fact that the code of conduct has introduced a provision concerning the reallocation of files between Members of the Commission in the event of potential conflicts of interest, they called for improvements in the following areas. They called on the Commission to revise, as a matter of urgency, the 2011 Code of Conduct for Commissioners to take account of the recommendations made by Parliament and with a view to ensuring: that Commissioners declare all their financial interests , including assets and liabilities over EUR 10 000 but also all their interests (as shareholders, company board members, advisors and consultants, members of associated foundations, close family interests as well as membership of any non-governmental organisations, secret societies or associations which conceal their existence; that Commissioners-designate submit their declarations within a specific time frame and sufficiently well in advance, so that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee can submit to Parliament its views on potential conflicts of interests well in time for the hearings in Parliament; that the declaration is published in a format which is compatible with open data so that it can be easily processed via databases; that the Commission reports on an annual basis on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners and that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee draws up and publishes an annual report on its activities, which may include any recommendations on the improvement of the Code of Conduct. Lastly, Members called on the Commission to begin negotiations with Parliament aimed at making any necessary changes to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission.
  • date: 2016-11-30T00:00:00 type: Debate in Parliament body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?secondRef=TOC&language=EN&reference=20161130&type=CRE title: Debate in Parliament
  • date: 2016-12-01T00:00:00 type: Results of vote in Parliament body: EP docs: url: https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/sda.do?id=27799&l=en title: Results of vote in Parliament
  • date: 2016-12-01T00:00:00 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P8-TA-2016-0477 title: T8-0477/2016 summary: The European Parliament adopted by 615 votes to 5 with 6 abstentions a resolution on Commissioners’ declarations of interests – guidelines. Parliament recalled that one of the pillars of European governance is the strengthening of ethics and transparency within the EU institutions in order to improve European citizens’ trust in them. In its resolution of 8 September 2015 , Parliament deemed it important for the Committee on Legal Affairs to issue guidelines in the form of recommendations or an own-initiative report, with a view to facilitating reform of the procedures relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests, while calling on the Commission to revise its rules relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests . The resolution recalled that the aim of scrutinising Commissioners' declarations of financial interests is to ensure that the Commissioners-designate are able to fulfil their mandates completely independently and to ensure maximum transparency and accountability on the part of the Commission. It also noted that a conflict of interests is defined as ‘any interference situation between a public interest and public and private interests that is likely to affect or that appears likely to affect the independent, impartial and objective exercise of a duty’. While confirming that the Committee on Legal Affairs is competent and responsible for carrying out a substantive analysis of the declarations of financial interests by means of an in-depth examination aimed at assessing whether the content of the declaration made by a Commissioner-designate is accurate and conforms to the criteria and principles laid down in the Treaties and the code of conduct, or whether a conflict of interests may be inferred and that it must be able to propose to the President of the Commission the replacement of that Commissioner. Parliament considered it essential that the Committee on Legal Affairs has enough time to ensure that this detailed assessment is effective and also be granted the right to continue with the hearing if it sees a conflict. Parliament focused on more technical issues such as the procedure for scrutinising declarations of financial interests before the hearings of the Commissioners-designate . In this regard, Parliament proposed a series of guidelines which should be applied when the declarations of financial interests are scrutinised by the Committee on Legal Affairs. Members considered that any change in the financial interests of a Commissioner during her/his term of office or any reshuffling of the allocation of responsibilities between Members of the Commission constitutes a new situation in terms of the possible existence of a conflict of interests. In more serious cases, if no other recommendation is able to provide for a solution to the conflict of interests, as the last resort, the committee responsible for legal affairs can conclude on the inability of Commissioner-designate to exercise his/her functions . In the event of a conflict of interests being identified during a Commissioner's term of office and of the President of the Commission not following Parliament's recommendations for resolving the conflict of interests, the Committee on Legal Affairs may recommend that Parliament ask the President of the Commission to withdraw confidence in that Commissioner. Parliament also recalled the provisions of the code of conduct for Commissioners regarding impartiality, integrity, transparency, diligence, probity, responsibility and discretion. Moreover, it considered that the family interests referred to in point 1.6 of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners should be included in the declarations of financial interests. In order to extend and improve the rules on conflicts of interest, the declarations of interests should also include the details of any contractual relation of the Commissioners-designate which might create a conflict of interests in the performance of their duties. Members deplored that the code of conduct: fails to codify adequately the requirement under Article 245 TFEU that ‘both during and after their term of office, Commissioners will respect the obligations, in particular their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits’; fails to lay down any divestment requirements, despite the fact that such requirements must be standard in any ethics regime; does not stipulate any concrete time frame for submission of the declaration prior to Parliament’s hearing of the Commissioners-designate. Parliament deplored that the Commission does not report regularly on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, in particular as regards their declarations of interests. Ex-Commissioners : Parliament pointed out that all ex-Commissioners are banned for 18 months from lobbying ‘members of the European Commission and their staff for his/her business, client, or employer on matters for which they have been responsible’, but are entitled to a very generous transitional allowance after they leave the Commission of between 40 and 65 per cent of their final basic salary for three years. Code of conduct for Commissioners : although overall Parliament welcomed the fact that the code of conduct has introduced a provision concerning the reallocation of files between Members of the Commission in the event of potential conflicts of interest, they called for improvements in certain areas. it called on the Commission to revise, as a matter of urgency, the 2011 Code of Conduct for Commissioners to take account of the recommendations made by Parliament and with a view to ensuring: that Commissioners declare all their financial interests , including assets and liabilities over EUR 10 000 but also all their interests (as shareholders, company board members, advisors and consultants, members of associated foundations, close family interests as well as membership of any non-governmental organisations, secret societies or associations which conceal their existence; that Commissioners-designate submit their declarations within a specific time frame and sufficiently well in advance, so that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee can submit to Parliament its views on potential conflicts of interests well in time for the hearings in Parliament; that the declaration is published in a format which is compatible with open data so that it can be easily processed via databases; that the code of conduct be amended, in line with Article 245 TFEU, to extend Commissioners’ post-office employment restriction to a period of at least three years and not shorter than the length of time during which former Commissioners are eligible for a transitional allowance as defined in Regulation No 422/67/EEC; that the Commission reports on an annual basis on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners and that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee draws up and publishes an annual report on its activities, which may include any recommendations on the improvement of the Code of Conduct. Lastly, Parliament called on the Commission to begin negotiations with Parliament aimed at making any necessary changes to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission.
  • date: 2016-12-01T00:00:00 type: End of procedure in Parliament body: EP
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  • The Committee on Legal Affairs adopted an own-initiative report by Pascal DURAND (Greens/ EFA, FR) on Commissioners’ declarations of interests – guidelines.

    Members recalled that one of the pillars of European governance is the strengthening of ethics and transparency within the EU institutions in order to improve European citizens’ trust in them.

    In its resolution of 8 September 2015, Parliament deemed it important for the Committee on Legal Affairs to issue guidelines in the form of recommendations or an own-initiative report, with a view to facilitating reform of the procedures relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests, while calling on the Commission to revise its rules relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests.

    The report recalled that the aim of scrutinising Commissioners' declarations of financial interests is to ensure that the Commissioners-designate are able to fulfil their mandates completely independently and to ensure maximum transparency and accountability on the part of the Commission.

    It also noted that a conflict of interests is defined as ‘any interference situation between a public interest and public and private interests that is likely to affect or that appears likely to affect the independent, impartial and objective exercise of a duty’.

    While confirming that the Committee on Legal Affairs is competent and responsible for carrying out a substantive analysis of the declarations of financial interests by means of an in-depth examination aimed at assessing whether the content of the declaration made by a Commissioner-designate is accurate and conforms to the criteria and principles laid down in the Treaties and the code of conduct, or whether a conflict of interests may be inferred, Members considered it essential that the Committee on Legal Affairs has enough time to ensure that this detailed assessment is effective.

    Members focused on more technical issues such as the procedure for scrutinising declarations of financial interests before the hearings of the Commissioners-designate. In this regard, the initiative report proposed a series of guidelines which should be applied when the declarations of financial interests are scrutinised by the Committee on Legal Affairs.

    Members considered that any change in the financial interests of a Commissioner during her/his term of office or any reshuffling of the allocation of responsibilities between Members of the Commission constitutes a new situation in terms of the possible existence of a conflict of interests. This situation should be subject to scrutiny by Parliament. In more serious cases, if no other recommendation is able to provide for a solution to the conflict of interests, as the last resort, the committee responsible for legal affairs can conclude on the inability of Commissioner-designate to exercise his/her functions.

    In the event of a conflict of interests being identified during a Commissioner's term of office and of the President of the Commission not following Parliament's recommendations for resolving the conflict of interests, the Committee on Legal Affairs may recommend that Parliament ask the President of the Commission to withdraw confidence in that Commissioner.

    Members recalled the provisions of the code of conduct for Commissioners regarding impartiality, integrity, transparency, diligence, probity, responsibility and discretion. Moreover, Members considered that the family interests referred to in point 1.6 of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners should be included in the declarations of financial interests. In order to extend and improve the rules on conflicts of interest, the declarations of interests should also include the details of any contractual relation of the Commissioners-designate which might create a conflict of interests in the performance of their duties.

    Members deplored that the code of conduct:

    • fails to codify adequately the requirement under Article 245 TFEU that ‘both during and after their term of office, Commissioners will respect the obligations, in particular their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits’;
    • fails to lay down any divestment requirements, despite the fact that such requirements must be standard in any ethics regime;
    • does not stipulate any concrete time frame for submission of the declaration prior to Parliament’s hearing of the Commissioners-designate.

    They deplored that the Commission does not report regularly on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, in particular as regards their declarations of interests.

    Code of conduct for Commissioners: although overall Members welcomed the fact that the code of conduct has introduced a provision concerning the reallocation of files between Members of the Commission in the event of potential conflicts of interest, they called for improvements in the following areas.

    They called on the Commission to revise, as a matter of urgency, the 2011 Code of Conduct for Commissioners to take account of the recommendations made by Parliament and with a view to ensuring:

    • that Commissioners declare all their financial interests, including assets and liabilities over EUR 10 000 but also all their interests (as shareholders, company board members, advisors and consultants, members of associated foundations, close family interests as well as membership of any non-governmental organisations, secret societies or associations which conceal their existence;
    • that Commissioners-designate submit their declarations within a specific time frame and sufficiently well in advance, so that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee can submit to Parliament its views on potential conflicts of interests well in time for the hearings in Parliament;
    • that the declaration is published in a format which is compatible with open data so that it can be easily processed via databases;
    • that the Commission reports on an annual basis on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners and that the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee draws up and publishes an annual report on its activities, which may include any recommendations on the improvement of the Code of Conduct.

    Lastly, Members called on the Commission to begin negotiations with Parliament aimed at making any necessary changes to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission.

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Commissioners' declarations of interests - Guidelines
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8.40.03 European Commission