Metsola wants swift reforms for more transparency in the EU Parliament

Brussels (dpa) – After the corruption scandal surrounding the EU Parliament, President Roberta Metsola wants to regain citizens’ lost trust with more transparency and stricter lobbying rules. To this end, she submitted a proposal to the heads of the parliamentary groups on Thursday, containing 14 measures that would make it more difficult to influence MEPs.

Among other things, stricter rules are planned for former MEPs who want to lobby in the European Parliament. As long as they receive the transitional allowance to which they are entitled after their mandate, they should not be allowed to be listed in the transparency register and thus would not be able to lobby in Parliament, according to a draft of the Metsola proposals obtained by dpa ahead of the submission.

Further proposals are to make public all meetings of MEPs with third parties that are related to a report or a resolution, to require more detailed information on financial interests including secondary occupations of MEPs and to ban so-called friendship groups. In these groups, MEPs maintain informal relations with certain countries – but sometimes use the reputation of the parliament to do so. Instead, third countries should maintain relations with parliament through the Foreign Affairs Committee or official delegations.

In addition, according to the plans, all visitors should be registered when entering parliament buildings, including representatives of third countries. The reason for the visit will also have to be stated. Former members of parliament should no longer have a permanent access pass. (January 11)

NATO and EU sign third declaration of cooperation

Brussels (ANSA) – In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel signed the third declaration on EU-NATO cooperation to strengthen and extend cooperation. Key points of the declaration included full support for “Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defense and to choose its own destiny.”

“Persistent conflict, fragility and instability in our European neighborhood undermine our security and provide fertile ground for strategic competitors, as well as terrorist groups, to gain influence, destabilize societies and pose a threat to our security,” reads point six of the document, which also addresses Beijing’s role. “We live in an era of growing strategic competition. China’s growing assertiveness and policies present challenges that we need to address,” the EU and NATO emphasize.

The document extends the areas in which cooperation will be developed in the coming months. The declaration signed at the Alliance headquarters also underlines the complementarity of European strategic autonomy to NATO. “As underlined by both the NATO Strategic Concept and the EU Strategic Compass, this is a key juncture for Euro-Atlantic security and stability, more than ever demonstrating the importance of the transatlantic bond, calling for closer EU-NATO cooperation,” the document states. (January 10)

European Commission urges TikTok to respect privacy rules

Brussels (Belga) – The European Commission has urged the boss of social media platform TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, to respect European law. According to a European Commission read-out, Commission Vice-President for Transparency and Values Věra Jourová questioned Chew about concerns surrounding personal data protection, child safety, the spread of Russian disinformation and transparency on paid political content.

TikTok has long been in the crosshairs of European authorities. The Irish privacy regulator is already investigating the video-platform for possible violations of European GDPR rules on the processing of personal data and illegal transfers to China. Moreover, with the entry into force of the European Digital Services Act (DSA), online platforms will soon face a new range of obligations, including on disinformation.

Jourova appreciated that TikTok had signed the new code of conduct on disinformation and implemented European sanctions against Russian propaganda channels. According to the read-out, the video app acknowledges that foreign governments try to manipulate content on its platform. TikTok will also soon report to the Commission under the code of conduct on its efforts in this regard. (January 11)

EU: One million signatures to ban shark fin trade

Brussels (AFP) – A European citizens’ initiative to ban the trade in shark fins detached from the animal’s body has collected more than a million signatures across the EU, forcing Brussels to provide a detailed response by July.

Launched in early 2020 with the support of the NGO Sea Shepherd, the initiative had collected 1,119,996 signatures by Wednesday, according to the European Commission. They were mainly collected in Germany (475,635), France (289,413) and Italy (70,688).

“We aim to end the trade of fins in the EU, including the import, export and transit of fins, other than if naturally attached to the animal’s body,” says the text of the initiative. “Although the removal of fins on board of EU vessels and in EU waters is prohibited (since 2013) and sharks must be unloaded with their fins naturally attached, the EU is among the biggest exporters of fins and a major transit hub for the global fin trade,” the paper insists. (January 11)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.