On 26 March 2015, Transparency International EU was invited to take part in a public hearing held at the European Parliament to present the findings of the European Union Integrity System report, released in April 2014 (you can also read the 4-page summary brochure). The hearing, entitled “Towards a high degree of accountability, transparency and integrity in the EU institutions”, was organised jointly by four parliamentary committees, namely CONT (budgetary control), JURI (legal affairs), LIBE (civil liberties), and AFCO (constitutional affairs). Other speakers included Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms Kristalina Georgieva, and the European Ombudsman, Ms Emily O’Reilly.
As highlighted by Carl Dolan in his speech (see video below or read here), the fact that four committees came together to hold a discussion on the topic of transparency and integrity in the EU institutions, indicates the urgency of this issue. Although Transparency International EU stated in the report that the treaties and regulations already in place show a mature and solid democratic system, risks of corruption remain high. Policy-makers need therefore to take action and safeguard EU institutions’ integrity – their most important as well as fragile asset. Recent surveys reveal that citizens’ trust in the EU has been declining over the last years, and 70% of the public worryingly claims to believe that there is corruption in the system.
The European Parliament, as demonstrated on several occasions, is dedicated to the values of good governance, accountability, transparency, and integrity in public life as Transparency International EU is. Nevertheless, this institution shows an ambiguous and often ineffective behaviour when it comes to some key issues such as internal whistleblowing rules and MEPs and high level officials’ conflicts of interests (read more on this in the article “Transparency and the EP: Talk but little action?”). TI EU therefore welcomed the joint organisation of this public hearing as it proves the commitment of MEPs to fighting corruption within the parliament and enhancing the level of transparency of the system.