Over a quarter of members of the European Parliament have declared outside earnings, Transparency International EU said in a report published late Tuesday.
The legislators collectively declared between €3.9 million and €11.5 million in income beyond their MEP salaries, according to the new data.
MEPs are allowed to have outside income, but they must submit details about it in publicly available financial declarations. Nevertheless, watchdog groups have raised concerns that the data is often unclear and that side jobs could create conflicts of interest.
“We found significant outside income and worryingly vague financial declarations,” said Vitor Teixeira, a senior policy officer at Transparency International EU.
In the NGO’s report, Polish MEP Radosław Sikorski, a European People’s Party member, is listed as the member with the highest outside earnings, followed by French MEP Sandro Gozi and Danish MEP Asger Christensen, both Renew Europe members.
The far-right Identity and Democracy Group has the highest percentage of members with paid side activities, according to Transparency International’s data, which showed 38 percent of the group’s MEPs receiving outside income. The center-right European People’s Party came in second place, followed by the centrist Renew Europe and the Greens group.
The group with the fewest members who have paid outside gigs is The Left, where only 10 percent of MEPs have outside earnings.
“This is another ethics scandal waiting to happen,” said Teixeira. “We need an independent EU Ethics body to monitor potential conflicts of interest of all policy-makers.”
The European Parliament has backed the idea of establishing an independent ethics body — and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said she also supports such a body. But it remains unclear whether the EU will ultimately establish an ethics body with teeth.
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