What undermines trust in the European Parliament? – OPINION

By Mikhail Spricut

The European Parliament occupies a unique place in the political system of the European Union, representing the interests of citizens from all member states. However, despite its key role in promoting democracy and human rights, recent years have been marred by a series of scandals that cast a shadow on its reputation and raise questions about the internal culture and ethical standards of the body.

The incident involving Spanish MEP José Ramón Bauzá, accused of psychological harassment, highlighted structural problems within the European Parliament. The situation, where an assistant was forced to perform humiliating tasks, contradicts the EU's commitments to uphold high standards in workplace relations.

"For him, I was no different from the washing machine I had to install in his apartment," described the MEP's assistant regarding his treatment.

This is just one of many examples that demonstrate a possible disregard for employee rights and a lack of adequate control over the behavior of deputies.

The problem of double standards is evident not only in individual misdemeanors but also in the systematic inability of the European Parliament to apply its own laws and recommendations to itself. Lenient punishment for deputies like Bauzá underscores the lack of strict accountability, which undermines trust in institutional justice. Moreover, frequent accusations of corruption and lobbying show how financial and corporate interests can influence legislative decisions, distorting the transparency of processes and questioning the motives of parliament's actions.

Corruption scandals, such as allegations of accepting bribes from countries and private interests to advance certain legislative initiatives, continue to be a significant stain on the reputation of the European Parliament.

One can recall the corruption scandal involving the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili. In December 2022, she was suspended from office following her arrest in connection with a bribery case. Kaili was arrested in Belgium for receiving bribes from a Persian Gulf country seeking to influence economic and political decisions of the European Parliament. This is just one of many similar examples. Structural investigation and ensuring the independence of such investigations are extremely important for restoring public trust.

Corruption, scandals, and double standards severely erode public trust in the European Parliament. These issues portray the institution as one where the interests of specific individuals or groups are prioritized over the collective goals of European integration and democratic governance. The involvement of legislators in corrupt activities or scandals not only hampers the law-making process but also erodes faith in the ability to govern fairly and effectively.

Furthermore, double standards, which involve applying different rules to different people or countries, exacerbate these challenges, undermining the principle of equality that should be fundamental to any democratic society.

Unfortunately, in the modern political arena, situations often arise where respected international institutions like the European Parliament become embroiled in scandals that undermine their credibility. The European Parliament's mission is to establish standards for democratic governance and human rights compliance. However, sometimes its members are implicated in corruption scandals and other contentious issues. This contradicts their role as mentors in proper governance and international law compliance. When the personal or private interests of some members take precedence over the public good, it not only diminishes public trust in such organizations but also undermines the foundations of law and order and democracy that they aim to uphold.

Strengthening internal control mechanisms, such as improving complaint procedures and ensuring protection for whistleblowers who help expose unethical behavior, is one of the key step in restoring the integrity of the European Parliament. Introducing more strictly regulated sanctions for violations and enhancing transparency in lobbying and financing of deputies will help restore the image of the legislative body, truly working for the benefit of the citizens of Europe.



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