Prof. Dr. Melanie Sully

Dr Melanie Sully on The EU Code of Conduct

"Order! Order!! The EU Code of Conduct", interview on FM4 Austrian Radio 30.5. 2014 with Dr Melanie Sully


„Order! Order!! The EU Code of Conduct“, interview on FM4 Austrian Radio 30.5. 2014 with Dr Melanie Sully

This interview looks at what happens after the European Parliament elections held at the end of May. With the election of many new MEPs challenging the established parties we might expect to see and hear a different tone.

Members of the European Parliament have to state that they do not hold any other posts which are incompatible with being a MEP eg also being in a national parliament.

Then there is a code of conduct which tries to limit conflicts arising from outside financial interests which have to be well documented. The MEPs have to state paid activities eg membership of company boards in the previous three years. While performing the duties as an MEP they should publicise paid jobs such as lectures or consultancy work if it tots up to more than 5000 Euro a year. Changes to such declarations have to be notified within a 30 day time period. In addition there are strict rules on the acceptance of gifts and as a rule these should be declined if their worth exceeds 150 Euros. For breaches of the code there are sanctions including loss of a daily allowance, suspension from parliamentary activities excluding the right to vote and possible loss of elected functions on committees. The MEP in question has the right to appeal and to defend their position. Sanctions and the case must be put on the website of the European parliament.

The Code of Conduct is guided by principles of integrity, openness, diligence, honesty, accountability and respect for Parliament’s reputation.

In Austria there is an ongoing discussion on a code of conduct for parliamentarians to lay down standards for conduct in plenary and even maybe for the way they dress. For repeated bad behaviour some would like to see fines introduced as recently in Germany but even in the Bundestag a decision against a dress code was taken.

In the United Kingdom there is also a code of conduct covering potential conflict of interests and it is the Speaker in the Chamber who calls MPs to order with the possibility to exclude them from parliament without pay.

Generally people want to see their MPs conform to reasonable standards of behaviour and set an example. Open voting and attendance records can help transparency and understanding of the job of an MP as well as communication via facebook and twitter.