EU Integrity Watch is designed to be a central hub for online tools that allow citizens, journalists and civil society to monitor the integrity of decisions made by politicians in the EU. For this purpose, data that is often scattered and difficult to access is collected, harmonised and made easily available. The platform allows citizens to search, rank and filter the information in an intuitive way. Thereby EU Integrity Watch contributes to increasing transparency, integrity and equality of access to EU decision-making and to monitor the EU institutions for potential conflicts of interest, undue influence or even corruption.
The technology behind the platform (D3.js) was developed by the New York Times in order to make complex datasets accessible to a wider audience. All datasets are also available for download as this platform strongly supports the principles of open software and open data.
The website currently contains three different datasets on the following topics:
Information from the declaration of financial interest of MEPs provides a unique overview of their activities and enables a range of rankings and visual comparisons. It also allows to identify those MEPs with a high degree of external activity and to better monitor them for potential conflicts of interests between their legislative work in the Parliament and their outside activities.
Self-reported data of senior public officials of the European Commission on lobby meetings contains a range of potential important insights on current dynamics and content of lobby activities. Data from the voluntary Transparency Register provides additional information on who those lobbyists are, how much they spent on lobbying, how many people they have working for them and what files and topics they are active on.
Data on post-mandate activities of former MEPs and Commissioner contains first evidence of their current occupation, which sector they work in and whether or not they are directly involved in Brussels-focussed lobbying activities. This allows users to monitor potential revolving door cases and instances of conflict of interests. New employments have been categorised along the same lines as the organisations on the EU Transparency Register.
The datasets used on Integrity Watch are almost exclusively retrieved from the official websites of the European Institutions. We read out this information on a regular basis and publish the date of the latest update prominently on our websites. The only exception to the rule is the data on post-mandate activities, part of which has been collected by our researchers. EU Integrity Watch is not responsible for the accuracy of the original data published by the EU Institutions. If you spot inaccurate, incomplete or misleading information, please report those instances and provide us the link to a reliable source. If you are using the data please always confirm your findings with the original information on the websites of the EU Institutions.
EU Integrity Watch was first launched in October 2014 by Transparency International EU (TI EU). The project is co-funded by the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE), with a contribution by the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF).
All information and data used by EU Integrity Watch is gathered from the websites of the European Commission for the lobby meetings, from the EU Transparency Register (the register of Brussels lobbyists) for the information on lobby organisations and from the website of the European Parliament for the declarations of financial interests and from external websites for revolving door cases. Data in the EU register is self-reported on a voluntary basis by lobbyists. We read out this information on a regular basis and publish the date of the latest update prominently on our websites.
Transparency International and EU Integrity Watch bear no responsibility for the accuracy of the original data as we only reproduce information that is publicly available on the above-mentioned websites.
Before publication of any findings, please always check the latest data on the websites of the EU Institutions or external websites linked.
Should you spot any inaccuracies in the data or any functionality that does not work properly please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Code of Conduct of the European Parliament establishes that for reasons of transparency, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) shall submit a declaration of financial interests. Those declarations shall then be published on the Parliament's website.
All data of outside incomes of MEPs comes from the website of the European Parliament. EU Integrity Watch automatically extracts the information from the original declarations that are published in Pdf format on the Parliament's website and uses them to regularly update its own database. The date of the latest update is featured on our website. All information contained in the original declaration is under the sole responsibility of the member of the European Parliament that filled out and signed the declaration. This means also that the information is currently only available in the language in which the member has filled out the declaration. Given that the Parliament only provides the data in Pdf format instead of a reliable .xml format our data might not be 100% accurate. On each profile of a member we link to the profile on the Parliament's own website, where the original declaration and all other information can be check and verified.
Since 1 December 2014, senior European Commission staff, including Commissioners, members of their Cabinets and Directors-General, are required to disclose on their websites details of meetings with lobbyists, including the names of organisations and self-employed participants, time, location and the subject of the meeting (European Commission decision C(2014 9048 final and 9051 final). Under Article 4(1) the information shall be published in a standardised format within a period of two weeks following the meeting.
These self-reported data is automatically retrieved from the individual EU Commission webpages and consolidated. The reporting and publication of the events is in sole responsibility of the EU Commission senior staff. Therefore, the validity, completeness and timeliness of publication have to be ensured by the public officials themselves.
Additional information on the identification and characterisation of the interest groups are retrieved from the Transparency Register database. The definition of classification has been spelled out in the Annex IX to the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament and can be found here.
There is currently no central repository containing post-mandate activities of former Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament. According to the Code of Conduct, Commissioners must seek approval before accepting an employment in the private sector during the first 18 months after leaving office. Cases, which could potentially involve issues of conflicts of interest or ethics are referred to an Ad Hoc Ethical Committee of the European Commission, which issues recommendations, on which the College of Commissioners take a collective decision. These decisions are subsequently published in the minutes of Commission meetings, which were retrieved through filling a request for access to documents. MEPs do not have the same obligations and as such, information regarding their post-mandate activities can only be retrieved by scanning self-declared information and primary research. The largest sources being the official websites of new employers, but in some cases also career websites such as LinkedIn. Due to the lack of transparency and limited availability of information concerning MEPs post-mandate activities, we strongly encourage users to verify the findings on the sources provided before publishing.
Transparency International EU has identified political corruption as one of the core problems of European democracies and the EU Institutions. In this context, we see the lack of transparency in decision-making, conflicts of interest and undue influence by lobbyists as some of the major challenges for our political systems. For more detailed information please also refer to our main research work:
In this context, we aim to rebuild citizens’ trust in the EU Institutions through increased transparency, accountability and citizen engagement using the power of modern analysis and communication technology to empower EU citizens.
Transparency alone is of course not a solution to all problems, but can only ever be the first step on a long way to reform. Without the basic evidence no problem can be addressed. In this sense transparency is a necessary pre-condition for good governance in political systems, accountable to citizens and free of corruption. EU Integrity Watch seeks to make information which are already in the public domain – but often scattered or in a format difficult to access (Pdf) or search – more accessible to a wider audience.
All data used for the tools on “MEP incomes”, “Commission meetings” and “EU Lobbyist” available on EU Integrity Watch comes from the websites of the EU Institutions. EU Integrity Watch reuses the data published by Parltrack which extracts the information from the original websites. We have used the following datasets:
For the tool on “MEP incomes”:
For the tools on “Commission meetings” and “EU Lobbyists”:
All the data used for the “revolving door” tool has been collected on the official websites of new employers. All links to original sources are provided on the individual profiles of former MEPs or Commissioners.
For the tool on “revolving door” cases:
The European Commission under President Jean-Claude Juncker has made strong commitments to increased transparency. Since 1 December 2014 Commissioners, their Cabinets and Director-Generals publish their meetings and only meet with lobbyists registered in the EU Transparency Register. Publication is made on the Commission website as explained above. Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans has been tasked to put forward a proposal for a mandatory register by the end of 2015.
The Commission also pledged to “ensure an appropriate balance and representativeness in the stakeholders they meet”. Indeed, a communication from the President to the Commission on the Working Methods of the European Commission 2014 – 2019 reads: "While contact with stakeholders is a natural and important part of the work of a Member of the Commission, all such contacts should be conducted with transparency and Members of the Commission should seek to ensure an appropriate balance and representativeness in the stakeholders they meet." The full text of the communication can be found here.
Created in 2011 as a joint register for lobbyists by the European Commission and Parliament, the voluntary register of Brussels lobbyists has undergone multiple revisions. Following the launch of an updated website on 27 January 2015, all registered organisations had to undergo a first annual update of their information. Despite the suspension of several hundred organisation and updated declarations from more than 7800 organisations that are currently registered, the quality of the data remains relatively poor, although improving compared to previous years. Transparency International has been campaigning for a mandatory register with meaningful sanctions for lobbyists that break the rules.
The European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker has taken good steps in the right direction when it comes to lobbying transparency. Allowing only registered lobbyists to meet the highest level of decision-makers and publishing those meetings have greatly improved transparency and are indeed the reason this present analysis was possible at all. Nevertheless, the findings of our work also illustrate that more is needed to ensure transparency, integrity and equality of access in EU lobbying. We recommend to:
As a reaction to the cash-for-amendments scandal that hit the European Parliament in 2011 (in which four members accepted payments from undercover journalists posing as lobbyists in exchange for the introduction of legislative amendments) a new code of conduct was introduced in 2012.
The Code obliges Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to submit information on their financial interests, to declare their attendance at third party events and to reveal any gifts that they have received.
On paper the 2012 Code of Conduct meant significant progress and the reporting obligations were quite extensive at the time. Unfortunately the implementation proved less ambitious. Despite recommendations by the Advisory Committee to the President of the European Parliament finding that seven MEPs had violated the Code of Conduct, not a single one has been sanctioned to date.
National Parliaments across Europe – Germany, France and the United Kingdom in particular – have significantly tightened their rules and reporting obligations during the last two years. Often these steps came in direct responses to scandals. In comparison, the European Parliament is now falling behind standards at national level, and this in a moment when euro-scepticism and public perception of the EU institutions as corrupt are at an all-time high.
The External Activity Indicator was developed by Transparency International to provide a quick overview of all activities that fall under the remits of the Code of Conduct and the declarations of financial interests. In short, the higher the indicator the more activities a member has declared and the higher the declared revenues. The website shades MEPs according to their EAI - the higher the EAI the darker the orange shading.
The External Activity Indicator is not an assessment of an MEP's performance or a judgement on the declared activities. It does not identify actual conflicts of interest. It only serves to quickly and easily identify those MEPs that have a higher number of declared activities or a higher declared income from outside activities.
Transparency International fully supports the European Parliament in its efforts towards greater transparency. Therefore we encourage all Members of the European Parliament to provide detailed and accurate declarations of their activities and financial interests. Only those declarations that provide meaningful and detailed information will allow the public and civil society to monitor potential conflicts of interests.
The External Activity Indicator is calculated by an algorithm that allocates points for each activity declared in a Member's declaration of financial interest. If no activities are declared a member has an EAI of 0. Points are attributed as follows:
1 point for each activity (2 points if the activity is a "regular remunerated activity")
1 points for each financial holding
1 point for every 500 EUR of minimum monthly outside revenue
10 points if revenue of "more than 10,000 EUR per month" are declared in at least one activity
One conclusion that can already be drawn from the EU Integrity Watch database is that the declarations of financial interest and thus the Code of Conduct of the European Parliament need reform. Meaningful monitoring of conflicts of interest is impossible when MEPs declare that their side-job is “consultant”, “freelancer”, “manager” or something that goes under an abbreviation such as “RvC FMO” or “ASDCAM”. The financial thresholds in the declarations need to be revised and should allow much more accurate reporting instead of capping the information at “more than 10,000 EUR”. Better guidelines on how to fill out the declarations are needed and the European Parliament should better monitor the submitted declarations. An independent ethics committee should monitor compliance and publish recommendations in case of an alleged breach.
There are currently very different rules governing the publication of post-mandate activities for Commissioners and MEPS. In regards to the latter, there are in fact no specific provisions within the Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament in regards to divulging post-mandate activities. Only article 6 addresses this question by removing facilities granted to former MEPS if one engages in lobbying activities with the objective of influencing the EU decision-making process. The situation is clearer in regards to former Commissioners. They must notify the Commission of any post-mandate activities during a so-called “cooling off” period currently set at 18 months. A decision is subsequently taken on whether the case should be referred to the ad-hoc ethical committee, the body responsible for assessing potential breaches of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners. The code further specifies that Commissioners must behave with integrity and discretion pursuant to Article 245 of the Treaty (TFEU) even beyond the period of 18 months after ceasing to hold office.
The term ‘revolving door’ refers to the movement of individuals between positions of public office and jobs in the same sector in the private or voluntary sector, in either direction. If not properly regulated, it can be open to abuse. The phenomenon in EU-level politics is currently growing. With approximately 37.500 jobs focussed on lobbying the EU-institutions, the demand for knowledgeable and well-connected individuals is high. Former high-ranking officials such as Commissioners and MEPs are particularly attractive, but also the most at risk for real or perceived conflicts of interests. While Transparency International understands the benefits of moving through the revolving door, such as improving communication and understanding between public officials and businesses, but advocates for the introduction of sensible rules to limit the negative effects of revolving doors.
If your questions have not been answered here please contact:
Policy Officer EU Integrity
Transparency International EU Office
+32 489 58 7140