It became known what gifts the President of the European Parliament receives
President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola declared 142 received her gifts in a public register for MEPs, which showed the limited transparency rules in the EU institution, writes Politico.
Metsola entered the gifts she received in the official public register, which lawmakers rarely update. However, by doing so last week, she missed the deadline for MEPs to declare their gifts for 125 items on her list.
Metsola's team argued that her declarations shattered years of secrecy by former parliament chairmen, none of whom had ever gone so far as to publicly reveal hundreds of gifts given to them by foreign dignitaries.
Her spokesman said the deadline for MEPs does not apply to Metsola by “custom” as she is the President of Parliament as well as an MEP, although her team was unable to point out that this exception was formally documented anywhere in writing.
“It shows that the system is broken,” said Michel van Hulten, director of Transparency International EU and a former MEP. “You can't run an ethics system based on unwritten rules. It's good that she did it, but there's no reward for following the rules,” he added.
The gifts Metsola received included: a gold model of the tower from high-ranking Moroccan politician Naam Mayar; a white dress with gold embroidery from Fawzia Zainal, Speaker of the Parliament of Bahrain; scarf from French Prime Minister Elisabeth Born; Sennheiser wireless headphones from the German Bundestag; a vase from the Czech Republic presiding in the Council of the EU; white blouse from Moldovan President Maia Sandu; a book about Bruges from the rector of the College of Europe, Federica Mogherini; a decorative plate from the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the Benelux countries.
Metsola also received champagne, chocolates, biscuits, a cake and dried sausage, which were “served in the course of parliamentary functions.”
With respect to 125 of these gifts, Metsola's declarations were received after the expiration of the period set for notification of them in accordance with the rules for MEPs. According to the code of conduct for members of parliament, gifts must be opened no later than the end of the month following the month in which MEPs received them.
According to a parliamentary press officer, previous presidents tended to declare their gifts in one fell swoop in end of term, bypassing the process of entering them on the public register and instead directly informing the civil service of parliament.
Each presidential declaration “was made administratively, but not entered on the public register,” the official said.
The appearance of Metsola's gifts comes at a very difficult time for the European Parliament. This institution is fighting to regain its credibility amid a police investigation into allegations that high-ranking figures in Brussels were involved in corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organization.
Prepared by: Nina Petrovich