Expatica news

Minster ‘got lobbyists to write EU amendments’

13 May 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Transport Minister Karla Peijs got lobbyists for the transport sector to write amendments she submitted to the European Parliament when she was an MEP, it has been alleged.

Current affairs programme Zembla announced on its website that it would make the claims in its coverage of the “lobbyist circuit” on Thursday.

Peijs was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1989 to 2003, when she was appointed Minister of Transport. She is a member of the Christian Democrat CDA party of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

Zembla claims that while an MEP, Peijs asked the European Shippers Council — a lobby group for the European transport sector — to write proposals which she submitted as amendments to EU transport laws.

The Dutch-language programme is to be screened at 9.10pm on Nederland 3.

It will also claim Peijs received travel expenses from the European Parliament even though she travelled around in a Mercedes she had the use of as a supervisory board member at car maker Daimler-Chrysler. 

Independent MEP Hans Peter Martin described Peijs to Zembla as a “marionette” of the transport industry.

But Peijs has come out fighting and denied any wrongdoing.

“Any MEP that suggests you create the impression you are not independent if you listen to societal organisations is talking nonsense. If you don’t do it, you are not worth a grain of salt as an MEP,” the minister said.

“You ask if I, for instance, listened to the transport sector: Yes. I was never a transport entrepreneur. Or did I take advice from harbours: Yes. I have never worked in a harbour.”

She cites other examples where she listened to advice from lobbyists for sectors she had no personal experience of.

Peijs said that taking advice and listening was how an MEP represented the people and developed informed opinions.

She confirmed to Zembla that she had included text written by lobbyists in amendments she submitted. But she had only done so after due consideration and in circumstances when she agreed with the ideas expressed by the original authors.

Despite her trenchant denials of any wrongdoing, the claims by Zembla will come as an embarrassment to Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende who said when he first came to power in 2002 that he wanted open and forthright government and an end to “back room” politics.

Last month, Minister Peijs’ husband, Rinus Platschorre, admitted he was aware of a system of illegal secret agreements in the European building industry.

The EU imposed a ban on secret, cartel deals in 1996, but Platschorre, a former building industry executive, said many of his sector colleagues thought the old system of secret consultations and price agreements would return.

There is no suggestion that his wife and now Dutch Transport Minister was in any way involved or knew of these activities which led to fines to the tune of EUR 100 million being imposed on some companies in the building sector.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news