Qatar-Gate corruption: Christian-Democrats want to do nothing to deal with scandal
Only a few days after Parliament President Roberta Metsola (Maltese Christian Democrat) proposed stronger transparency rules, the German Christian-Democrat politicians in the European Parliament row back. The spokespersons of CDU and CSU in the European Parliament, Daniel Caspary and Angelika Niebler, reject meaningful changes to the transparency rules for MEPs. In a report on tagesschau.de, Niebler said there was “no great need to catch up”. New rules would allegedly not have prevented the current scandal. Casparay rejects the disclosure of lobby meetings, arguing that “freely elected MEPs need freedoms. For example, the ability to have confidential discussions.”
In addition to the bribery of MEP and ex-vice-president Eva Kaili (Greek Social Democrat) with 600,000 euros, more and more allegations are surfacing. MEP Marc Tarabella (Belgian Social Democrat) is alleged to have received 120,000 euros from the same ex-MEP Antonio Panzeri (Italian Social Democrat). In addition, many gifts were not declared. Luxury trips for MEPs of many political groups were paid for by dictators and, contrary to transparency rules, not declared, or declared only after the deadline.
Daniel Freund, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for an independent EU ethics body, comments:
“It is inconceivable that the German Christian-Democrats are blocking meaningful reforms after this huge corruption scandal. They are stabbing their own parliamentary president in the back and want to prevent better transparency rules, which they had voted for in December. A stubborn ‘business as usual’ will not make the next scandal less likely. We need transparency and not secrecy about lobbying contacts and sources of income to regain lost trust.
If the European elections are not to end in a disaster after the scandal, there must now be only one standard for the European Parliament: Full transparency. The culture of impunity in the European Parliament must end. Every violation of the rules of conduct must be financially sanctioned.”
The rule changes which are urgently needed now:
- Declaration of MEPs’ assets: The plenary adopted this demand with a large majority. Having to declare assets before and after the mandate makes it more difficult to use bribes and thus less attractive to accept them. In at least 15 EU countries, MPs already have to disclose their assets.
- Disclosure of ALL lobby meetings: This proposal by EP President Metsola concerns meetings of all MEPs with lobbyists on a law or parliamentary decision. MEPs disclosing all meetings with lobbyists is the electorate’s right to transparency. Only the organisation, date and topic would be disclosed, without any further content of the conversation. Exceptions to protect the privacy and security of human rights defenders and whistleblowers have proven effective with 35,000 lobby meetings published by the EU Commission so far.
- Effective whistleblower protection in the EP: We cannot accept that the European Parliament continues to provide the worst whistleblower protection of all major EU institutions, especially now that we are depending on leads to fully investigate the scandal. The plenary had voted in December to improve internal rules.
- Independent scrutiny by an EU ethics body: No financial sanction has ever been imposed despite more than 25 breaches of the rules of conduct by MEPs. More than half of MEPs do not publish lobby meetings, although the rules already provide for this in many cases. The comparatively good transparency rules in the European Parliament are too poorly applied to be credible. The self-regulation of MEPs and Commissioners must be replaced by an independent body at least for the European Parliament and the EU Commission. There was also a broad majority for this in the European Parliament, with the Christian Democrats abstaining.
My speech in the European Parliament on 17.01.2023 (in German): https://twitter.com/daniel_
On Metsola’s plan of 11.01.2023: https://danielfreund.eu/14-
On the plenary resolution of 15.12.2022 https://danielfreund.eu/
On the plenary resolution for an EU ethics body of 16.09.2021: https://danielfreund.eu/