Corruption scandal in the European Parliament: "Third country influence must be curbed and made transparent"
A huge corruption scandal is sending shock waves through the European Parliament. Vice-President Eva Kaili (Socialists) was arrested by the Belgian police on Friday. The investigation in relation to suspicion of corruption, money laundering and influence from third countries is ongoing, according to the Belgian public prosecutor’s office. Media report that apparently the Gulf state Qatar tried to influence the politics of the European Parliament. In a parliamentary speech at the end of November, Kaili had praised Qatar’s role as “frontrunner in labour rights”. Several MEPs and staff members of the European Parliament are apparently under investigation. If the allegations are confirmed, it would be one of the most serious corruption scandals in Brussels in recent decades.
Daniel Freund, Co-Chair of the European Parliament’s Anti-Corruption Intergroup, comments:
“The current incident shows how aggressively third countries try to exert influence in the EU. Those who do so by illegal means, or even by bribery, must be punished. There are actually relatively good lobbying rules in Brussels. However, third countries have so far been completely exempt from them. The EU must improve this immediately. Lobbying from third countries must be published in the lobby register. Meetings with representatives of third countries should be disclosed.”
“Money must not buy influence in the EU. The suspicion alone is intolerable. The accusations must be fully investigated. There is a threat of a loss of confidence in the European Parliament although it is actually one of the most transparent Parliaments in Europe.”