The majority of the leaders of the political groups in the European Parliament today voted to reject a request by the Greens/EFA group to create a special committee in the European Parliament to assess the role of lobbying, notably tobacco lobbying, and create more transparent structures in the future. The vote, taken at the EP's conference of presidents, saw the proposed committee opposed by the leaders of all political groups apart from the Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups. Greens/EFA co-president Rebecca Harms roundly condemned the decision, stating:
"In rejecting the proposed special committee, the bigger political groups are preventing the European Parliament from responding to the expectations of EU citizens by providing greater transparency on the role of lobbying in the EU institutions. Far too many questions remain unanswered in the aftermath of the Dalli case, notably as regards the access and conduct of the tobacco industry in the EU legislative process. The failure to address these questions is a missed opportunity for the EP to play a proactive role in providing transparency and helping restore citizens' confidence in the EU institutions."
Green MEPs Bart Staes, vice-chair of the EP's budgetary control committee, and José Bové, vice-chair of the EP's agriculture committee, who were behind the proposed committee stated:
"This cover up is unacceptable and incomprehensible. With ongoing revelations emerging in the context of the Dalli controversy, both as regards the roles of OLAF (the EU's anti-fraud organisation) and the European Commission, there is a glaring need for an open and transparent discussion. The case clearly has wider implications for the EU institutions and the applicable rules on ethics, transparency and the role of lobbying. For this reason, the Greens/EFA group proposed a special committee of the European Parliament to examine concrete examples of good and bad practices as regards avoidance of conflicts of interests, undue influence and irregularities in decision-making processes within the EU's institutions and selected agencies. In blocking this initiative, the majority of the political groups are acting as an impediment to transparency and are threatening the credibility of the EU institutions. The Greens will continue to push to ensure that there is a more substantial response with regard to the role and influence of lobbyists on EU policy."
(1) A note on the proposal and the draft mandate can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/EPgoodgovcttee