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The Regulation of Ethics in the European Parliament

Michelle Cini

While there has been a boom in research on ethics regulation in recent years, the literature on the European Union remains rather small. Where there have been studies on various aspects of European politics, focusing particularly on single country cases, there has been relatively little research on the European Union's institutions. These have focused largerly on the European Commission (e.g. Cini, 2007, Nastase, 2014). By contrast, institutions such as the European Parliament, the EU Council and the Court of Justice have not as yet been the focus of research on ethics. This is a notable gap in the existing literature, but one which is understandable given the ethical focus on the Commission. Yet since 2011 the European Parliament has been active - pushed by a recent scandal - in developing its own ethics framework, and has also been willing at the same time to work with the Commission on a joint system of lobby regulation. This paper discusses the genesis of the Parliament's ethics framework, analyses its substantive features, and discusses the characteristics that make the regulation of ethics in the Parliament distinctive as compared to the regulatory choices made within the Commission. The paper concludes by identifying future avenues for empirical research on legislative and EU ethics regulation, and by questioning the extent to which research on the regulation of ethics in the EU institutions has the potential to contribute to wider theoretically-informed debates on the EU.

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