Brussels adopted completely different rules regarding the representation of national interests, after a revealing article published by the international news agency V4NA. Although the EESC tried to keep its plans secret, the draft was not accepted by everyone in the administration, so it was leaked. International news agency followed in the wake of the sudden shift.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has secretly amended its draft rules penalizing the representation of national interests. As previously written by V4NA, it was in possession of the EESC’s draft Code of Conduct, which listed the representation of national interests as a conflict of interest subject to sanctions.
Then the news agency wrote to the committee about why it believed that the interests of the member states were in conflict with the interests of the Union. A few days later, the panel posted on its Twitter page that it had adopted an ethics code that actually contained a completely different text instead of the snippet that V4NA also had.
The definition of conflict of interest was mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 8 of the original document that
It hinders the member from performing his duties in an impartial and objective manner, such as family interests, emotional issues, political or national affiliation, economic interests, or any other direct or indirect personal interest.
The same paragraph from the final version, which was published shortly after the request, already says so
A conflict of interest exists when a personal interest affects an individual in the independent performance of his duties. Personal interests include, but are not limited to, any potential benefits or opportunities that are offered to members, spouses, partners, or immediate family members.
A new code of conduct that has been adopted before EU_EESC:
In the event of alleged misconduct, the case will be investigated by a new ethics committee with investigative powers. Whistle-blowers will be protected. Close cooperation is guaranteed with OLAF.
European Economic and Social Committee (EU_EESC) January 29, 2021
The V4NA wrote back to the committee to ask about the reason for this sudden shift, and whether they rightly assumed that the committee was afraid of the public and thus backed off.