23 March, 2011

Lobby3: MEPs, caught as bribe-taking lobbyists, say Corruption is 'normal' in Europe's parliaments

Three Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been caught in alleged corrupt practice. Demanding loads of money, they agreed to make amendments to legislation that favoured a private financial interest. Or so they thought. It turned out that the offer came from reporters of London's Sunday Times. They had been caught in a public exposure.

The Lisbon system --
* where the Commission is no longer independent of political parties,
* where organized non-political civil society no longer has a voice,
* where the government ministers act more like party politicians and cut deals in private
--will bring more and more corruption.

European citizens can note recurrent facts that show the trend of corruption in the European system. That has arisen because political parties are trying to stifle supranational democracy.

1. High level politicians: the trio included a former deputy prime minister, a former interior minister and a former foreign minister. This implies that behaviour involving this level of corruption is usual at the very highest levels of European governments.

2. Countries: a wide dispersion of Member States are involved Austria, Slovenia and Romania. No one can say that it is a question of new Member States or those without sufficient political infrastructure and inadequate justice systems.

3. Sums involved: MEPs expect retainers of up to 100,000 euros for a bribery contract. One said he had five retainers paying up to this rate. Daily rates at around 4000 euros are expected. It should be recalled that many ordinary Europeans on low income or pensions may have to survive on 4000 euros or so for a YEAR. Where do MEPs' salaries come from? From tax of companies but also of citizens on low income who worked a lifetime and never saw such money.

4. Political Parties: corruption seems to recognize no ideology. Left and right-wing parties are involved. Greed is universal. Stalin never succeeded in removing human nature; neither did the rightwingers like Mussolini or Hitler. Greed is alive and active in major parties of Europe's Lisbon system.

5. Blatant Immorality: Who was the alleged source requiring the amendments? Certainly not an orphans' charity. The reporters told them they were working for a financial group. The MEPs were to water down the Deposit Guarantee Schemes directive, a key financial reform for correcting the financial crisis. It was designed to protect customers’ deposits in the event of another banking collapse. Thus the amendment was useful for the clique of white collar criminals who robbed citizens and who bent rules and ethics getting Europe into a financial crisis. Bent money bends and blinds the conscience of the people's representatives. It encourages political psychopaths.

6. Techniques: The amendment was not necessarily introduced by the MEP being bribed. One of the trio tried to get other MEPs to introduce the measure so that there would be no direct trace leading back to him. He took the money. Someone else actually had his name on the public documents of Parliament. Clever, heh? This requires a network of buddies so that the blame can be shifted and everyone appears innocent. Unfortunately for him the source of the bribery was not a real one. The reporters were able to trace the work methodology. The MEPs' system and its technique only work to hide the evidence when real bribery is involved. That is most of the time.

7. Prevention systems: Apparently none exists. Firms should note that a directory of corrupt MEPs will be useful for their own activities. Perhaps some entrepreneur will make available a (paying) database of corrupt politicians! It's safe. No citizen is likely to blow the whistle. The lack of whistle-blowers proves this. They are more than discouraged about spilling the beans. The MEPs say that such practices of corruption are widespread. But it took investigating journalists to break the story. That shows that the sanctions and threats against any would-be whistler are so severe that no one wants to try. Does this mean that the parties -- that is governmental systems -- would mass their forces to make the whistler's life a misery? Apparently so. Who would be foolish enough to take on the three major parties in 27 governments simultaneously?

8. Widespread practice. This is not an isolated incident. Nor is the action of MEPs unusual. MEPs admit it. This is what one of the three MEPs said:

“I didn’t do anything that was, let’s say, illegal or against any normal behaviour that we have here.”

There you have an admission that bribery is normal and acceptable. The MEPs showed confusion as to whether they were lobbyists themselves or representatives of the people. That is because the parties themselves are in the same lobbying business.

Political parties are Europe's largest lobbyists. They accept funds, sometimes secretly, and advocate the clients' causes.They should also be on the Lobby Register. The only alternative to this logic is to re-instate the supranational democratic system.

They also act as a CARTEL. They are in complete control about how much they should award themselves for salaries and assistants. If they are dissatisfied by not getting enough from public money, they can make 'revolving door' deals with companies -- the party goes soft on legislation and politicians get plush jobs when they resign or cease parliamentary functions.

Thus Europe is again re-living the abusive system of the interwar period. Large interest groups or cartels -- whether labour or companies -- control political parties. Today's political parties are becoming again lobbyists and worse -- secret cartels.

Instead Europeans need to return to the morally sound principles of supranational democracy.
  • The European Commission should be independent of ALL interest groups and composed of the most suitable independent and impartial personalities.
  • Lobbies should be confined to the institutions defined for them -- the Consultative Committee where they should be represented by European civil society organisations, not individual firms. The political parties have refused to let the Economic and Social Committee have its European elections as foreseen in the treaties since the treaty of Paris, 18 April 1951, the Rome Treaties and subsequent ones. Schuman agreed that the Council's action to stop these elections was 'illegal'.
  • Parliament should have fair elections, not fix them on a national basis that benefits the government parties.
  • The Council should represent nations and Member States, not political parties. Who knows what goes on as the politicians insist on closed-door sessions. The European Council's own secrecy rules has made this even worse. Supranational Democracy has only FIVE real institutions and the European Council is not one of them.

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