ONE is calling on EU decision makers to make public who owns and controls all businesses and trusts in the newest iteration of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD). This is important because developing countries lose an estimated one trillion dollars every year through a web of secretive and illicit activities. That money could be invested in healthcare, education, or vital infrastructure in the poorest countries.
Earlier this year, 14 Youth Ambassadors from all 7 of our Youth Ambassador programs across Europe (and from 11 different nationalities) came together in Brussels to discuss the need for transparency with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). They had 24 meetings with MEPs from 6 of the political groups to talk about transparency and what action the EU can take in the fight against corruption.
The MEPs heard them and have proposed full public access to who owns companies and trusts. The next step in the EU legislative process is a negotiation between the European Parliament and the EU Member States. We have now to convince all 28 national governments that transparency is the way to go, also because it helps fight extreme poverty.
Here is what our Youth Ambassadors had to say about their day in Brussels:
Jennifer Traini, Italy
I never went to the European Parliament before so I really didn’t know what to expect from this experience, but it was super interesting from start to finish. It’s easy to assume that MEPs and politics in general are sometimes distant from the “real” world but after January 24th, I couldn’t disagree more. I had the chance to meet kind, smart and, most of all, helpful people. I was really happy to see that despite their political differences, all MEPs I met seemed to be really concerned about corruption, proving to me that there are indeed some issues that transcend politics.When it comes to these kinds of issues, everyone wants to be on the right side.
Mathilde Nicoli, France
January 24th, we went to Brussels to advocate for greater transparency. We met with four French MEPs’ teams. The first MEP assistant who we met told us that ONE has been the first NGO he joined! We couldn’t have got off to a better start! Some MEPs agreed with our propositions. Others were more resistant to our requests. The day’s highlight for me was to meet with Eva Joly MEP who is a symbolic personality in the fight against corruption. This meeting was really motivating, as she taught us about how transparency became important in the public debate and talked about the contribution of civil society to the debate. This lobby day was so inspiring! I realised how decision makers can open to organizations and civil society’s inquiries. I really felt that our advocacy had an impact on this legislative process.
Fionnuala Egan, Ireland
It was such a privilege to visit the European Parliament and meet with MEPs. I was touched by their willingness to really listen to what we were arguing for. I also appreciated hearing the MEPs’ perspectives on the best ways of going about ending corruption, which sometimes differed from ours. I was also struck by one MEP’s advice to spread the word about our lobbying on social media. This is a great way to engage with young people and I liked that she was aware of the importance of youth engagement in these kind of issues.
I would like to sincerely thank the MEPs I met with. They all came from different political backgrounds and points of view and I really appreciate how they took the time to meet with us and thoroughly engage with what we were saying.
Erin Burns, UK
It was a really interesting experience having the chance to talk to MEPs with varying views about the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive. It was great to learn more about how the legislation that could make a big impact on the corruption that takes money away from developing countries who need it so much.
Shéhérazade Benzerga, Germany
It was great to meet MEPs with other Youth Ambassadors from all over Europe in Brussels. What was unique and representative of this day was the commitment from all (the ONE team, ONE Youth Ambassadors, MEPs and MEP teams) to use their voice to call for greater transparency. Thanks to all the MEPs who took the time to discuss, debate and share with us. Now I really hope the European Parliament will be bold in their next steps and adopt watertight legislation that will help fight against corruption and money laundering.
Thomas Sevat, The Netherlands
It was great to see that the four Members of the European Parliament I met were very happy to discuss this difficult matter with us, Youth Ambassadors. Although some members were constrained to party or member state preferences, I am confident that in the end we convinced all of them on a moral level. I look forward to the EP vote in February, and hopefully to see good results for our mission against extreme poverty. It was an extraordinary visit and I am very happy to have represented ONE on this lobbying day in Brussels.
Nathalie Symens, Belgium
I was very thrilled by the importance of our transparency lobby day. I was confident, prepared and excited to meet a few MEPs from Belgium and The Netherlands. The meeting with Helga Stevens MEP and her sign language interpreter was a special experience. Much respect! What I would like to say to the MEPs I met: Judith Sargentini, Tom Vandekendelaere and Helga Stevens, thank you very much again for your interest and for our discussion. Please keep in mind our meeting and our requests for public access to beneficial ownership information in the coming days. Let us make sure that Europe continues to champion the fight against corruption and money laundering!
Now it is time to get the EU Member States to join the fight against corruption. Tweet along with us and ask them to make who owns companies and trusts public!