At least ten European Union institutions, including the European Commission and the European Parliament, remain open to huge corruption because of poor enforcement of rules on ethics, transparency and financial control.
According to a report by the European office of Transparency International (TI), the institutions are open to corruption because of the absence of mandatory controls on the 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels and the growing trend of the commission, council and parliament to negotiate laws in secret meetings at which no records are kept.
“Public scrutiny of EU-law making is hampered by blind spots in the process. These include so-called ‘trialogue’ [private informal meetings of representatives from different institutions] and conciliation discussions where EU laws are negotiated behind closed doors between the Council, Parliament and Commission.”
Between 2009 and 2014, 1,549 trialogue meetings were held, but there is no public record of who attended or what was agreed.
“The work of the Council below the ministerial level and of Commission expert and member state committees remain difficult or impossible to trace despite their direct and often definitive influence on legislation.”
Despite all this, the report — written by an organisation which is part-funded by the European Commission — insists “there is a good foundation in the EU system to support integrity and ethics.”
Yet the report found no evidence that the financial information declared by commissioners and MEPs is being verified, “undermining this essential safeguard against conflicts of interest and illicit enrichment.”
Committees monitoring compliance with ethics rules “are usually filled with current or former members of the institutions, and therefore lack independence or real teeth.”
Corruption risks also persist because of weak protection for EU whistle-blowers and weak sanctions for companies that have engaged in corrupt practises when tendering for EU contracts.
There have been a number of corruption scandals within EU institutions in recent years.
Among them, in 2012 one of the European Commissioners was sacked by commission president José Manuel Barroso following charges of corruption.
In 2011 the Sunday Times disclosed that some members of the European Parliament were prepared to table amendments to EU legislation in return for cash, the report praises.
An opinion poll by Eurobarometer, the Commission’s own polling organisation, found that 70 percent of people in the European Union think there is corruption in EU institutions.
Transparency International claims the 224-page report is independent, and that it is “the first ever comprehensive report on corruption and integrity risks in the EU institutions.”
However, the Brussels office of Transparency International itself is part-funded by the European Commission.
In 2012, it received €250,000 from the Directorate-General Justice of the commission.
In 2013, 15 percent of its total funding came directly from the commission.
T.I. Brussels received further funding from Transparency International’s Berlin headquarters which is itself part-funded by the European Commission.
Asked by Breitbart News how the report could be independent while Transparency International was financed by an EU institution, Carl Dolan, director of the TI Brussels office, said that “all the funding for the integrity study came from an independent family foundation based in The Netherlands (Adessium Foundation). So the report is independent in that it was funded independently of the commission and the study design, methodology and conclusions are entirely our own.”
The report recommends that a European Public Prosecutor should be established with “serious, cross-border EU crimes including corruption” to be part of its mandate. This is also a key demand of EU politicians and eurocrats who want to transfer more power over justice from member states to the EU.