Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

EU still needs more transparency

By Fu Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-29 07:53

On the European Parliament website, President Martin Schulz has declared the monthly income range of his four jobs, starting from his early career as a bookseller in Germany to his position as European Parliament head, which helped him earn about 5,000 ($6,342) to 10,000 euros per month.

After keeping his post in the May election, he was obliged to report in detail about his income sources and property and post it online, although he made public nothing more.

All of the newly-elected 800-odd members of Parliament have followed Schulz's example, with some reporting in a very detailed way and even including the economy-class travel they were paid by sponsors to attend meetings. However, many have just reported roughly how much they earn.

The European Parliament did not enforce the rules of declaration of financial interests online until January 2012, after several members of the European Parliament were embroiled in a cash-for-amendments scandal the year before.

In fact, European officials live with tremendous lures.

The leading European institutions in Brussels are surrounded by tremendous lobbying bodies, think tanks and business associations in the honeycombs of office buildings nearby. Some say, behind every two European Union staff, there is one lobbyist, who is trying every means possible to influence the policy direction of Brussels.

Partly, this has made the findings of corruption in Europe appalling reading.

According to an anti-corruption report unveiled by European Commission earlier this year, corruption continues to be a challenge for Europe - a phenomenon that costs the European economy around 120 billion euros per year. Three out of four Europeans believe that corruption is widespread and more than half think that the degree of corruption in their country has increased over the past three years, when the continent has been gripped by economic recession.

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