The strengthening of the Union’s democratic legitimacy: the Independent Ethics Body

Frederic Köberl | Unsplash

A majority of the The EU’s directly elected legislative body comprised of 705 members. It is involved in policymaking but it does not have the power to propose new legislation. European Parliament supports the report led by the A Member of the European Parliament (MEP) is a person who has been elected to serve as a representative in the European Parliament. MEP of the Greens Group, Daniel Freund, on the creation of an Independent Ethics Body during September’s plenary session. The primary purpose of the body will be that of strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the EU by proposing and advising on ethics rules for members of the The EU’s politically independent executive arm. It is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council. European Commission and the Parliament. In addition to this, it also intends to raise awareness, provide guidance on ethical matters, and have an advisory role with the ability to issue recommendations and initiate investigations on conflicts of interest. In addition to the members of the Commission and Parliament, this body will also be open to all EU institutions, agencies and bodies.

To set up the Ethics Body, the report proposed the conclusion of an interinstitutional agreement which is to be adopted by the mutual consent of the An institution representing the Member States’ interests. Either comprised of the heads of government (European Council) or more frequently the ministers (Council of the EU) meeting in different constellations depending on the policy area. Involved in policy-making, often together with the European Parliament. Council, the Parliament and the Commission, the latter being the one in charge of taking the initiative. Hence, since the report on the Ethics Body has been supported by the Parliament, it is now for the The EU’s politically independent executive arm. It is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council. European Commission to take the initiative and amend or suggest new proposals to move towards the conclusion of the interinstitutional agreement on the Ethics Body. 

Even if this idea of the Independent Ethics Body has long been on the table of the The EU’s directly elected legislative body comprised of 705 members. It is involved in policymaking but it does not have the power to propose new legislation. European Parliament, there have been great discrepancies between the different political groups as for its support. Already in July, when the report on the setting up of the Ethics Body was brought into the Parliament, the European People’s Party Group (EPP) postponed the voting process because they considered that its creation would risk the balance of powers between EU institutions and consequently, on the rule of law within the Union. Later on, even if the EPP Group recognised that improvements had been made in the parliamentary negotiations, they abstained from voting in favour of it by firmly declaring that the Ethics Body will directly breach the rule of law by taking away from the The EU’s directly elected legislative body comprised of 705 members. It is involved in policymaking but it does not have the power to propose new legislation. European Parliament the right to scrutinise and approve the government. In addition to this abstention, the majority of the members of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) and almost half of the Non-Inscrits Group (NI), composed by Members of the Parliament which do not form part of any of the recognised political groups voted against the adoption of this Ethics Body, clearly showing that its creation is not an easy-to-digest issue.

But where does this idea of an Ethics Body come from? Already during the 2019 European elections, the political groups in the Parliament, but particularly the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D), called for the creation of a single and independent ethics body. They considered it necessary to ensure a consistent and full implementation of ethics standards across the EU institutions. In fact, in the Union framework, the enforcement of ethical rules is not separated from political processes since each European institution designs its own ethical rules and organises its enforcement internally, without having a single and common ethics body for all of them.

Now that a ‘one for all’ Ethics Body has been supported by a majority vote in the The EU’s directly elected legislative body comprised of 705 members. It is involved in policymaking but it does not have the power to propose new legislation. European Parliament, it remains to be seen how the negotiations and dialogue between the EU institutions will evolve in the upcoming months. 

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