Dear Mr. Lehne, dear colleague,
I am writing to you to ask for clarifications on your work for the law firm Taylor Wessing, in particular in light of your role as chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs and rapporteur in that committee for an opinion on the revision of the Tobacco Directive.
You declared that next to your activity as an MEP, you have a regular income of more than 10,000 EUR a month as a lawyer for the international law firm Taylor Wessing. Taylor Wessing lists you as a partner in its Düsseldorf office, indicating that you advise clients primarily on EC-law issues.
According to the Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament with respect to financial interests and conflicts of interest (Annex I of the Rules of Procedure), “Members shall disclose, before speaking or voting in plenary or in one of Parliament’s bodies, or if proposed as a rapporteur, any actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to the matter under consideration, where such conflict is not evident from the information declared pursuant to Article 4. Such disclosure shall be made in writing or orally to the chair during the parliamentary proceedings in question.”
According to a general description of 2013 of the range of services provided by Taylor Wessing (see Annex), Japan Tobacco International is a client of Taylor Wessing. Consequently, as a partner of Taylor Wessing, you might potentially have a direct or indirect conflict of interest in the tobacco file.
The avoidance of any conflicts of interest, actual, potential or perceived, is particularly relevant in the context of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organisation, The Union is a Party to this Convention. According to Article 5(3) FCTC , “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”.
To the best of my knowledge, you have not made any public declaration with regard to any actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to revision of the Tobacco Directive and your paid work for Taylor Wessing.
In order to avoid any suspicion from the public on our institution and in a general context where more and more of our fellow European citizens mistrust the European Union and its capacity to protect them, I kindly ask you to clarify your situation with regard to any potential conflict of interest in this matter, and whether you have had any meetings with the tobacco industry.
Michèle Rivasi MEP
CC: Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
Linda McAvan MEP, Rapporteur on the revision of the Tobacco Directive in the ENVI Committee
Kazak Metin MEP, Rapporteur of the opinion on the revision of the Tobacco Directive in the INTA Committee
Robert Goebbels MEP, Rapporteur of the opinion on the revision of the Tobacco Directive in the INTA Committee
Ma?gorzata Handzlik MEP, Rapporteur of the opinion on the revision of the Tobacco Directive in the INTA Committee
Csaba Sándor Tabajdi MEP, Rapporteur of the opinion on the revision of the Tobacco Directive in the AGRI Committee
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