Budapest Post

Cum Deo pro Patria et Libertate
Budapest, Europe and world news

EU Parliament chief readies plan to prevent Qatargate 2.0

EU Parliament chief readies plan to prevent Qatargate 2.0

The 14 proposals, seen by POLITICO, would bar ex-lawmakers from lobbying for two years after leaving office.

European Parliament members could be barred from lobbying for two years after leaving office under a revamp of the body’s lobbying and transparency rules set to be proposed this week by Parliament President Roberta Metsola, whose institution is reeling from the Qatargate corruption scandal.

According to two people in Parliament briefed on the matter, Metsola will offer 14 proposals in total. In addition to the temporary lobbying ban, the proposals — seen by POLITICO — will also oblige anyone entering Parliament’s two seats in Brussels and Strasbourg to declare who they are meeting, bar MEPs’ unofficial friendship groups with non-EU countries and require MEPs to provide data about their other sources of income.

The Parliament’s credibility took a battering in December when Belgian authorities launched a probe into current and former MEPs accused of taking bribes in exchange for favors from Qatar and Morocco.

“There is momentum here that people are genuinely outraged and furious by what has happened and they all understand that we have to respond,” said one of the two people.

Many of the proposals are quick fixes that — provided they receive MEPs’ support — can be implemented in a matter of months. Metsola’s plan describes the measures as “first steps.” But they will nonetheless likely leave transparency groups pushing for more.

Metsola will make her pitch on Thursday in a closed-door meeting with the heads of the Parliament’s nine political groups, a gathering officially called the Conference of Presidents. While she can implement some of the simpler ideas alone — such as a plan to create a dedicated transparency portal on the Parliament’s website — the more thorny suggestions will require political consent and votes, particularly when it comes to MEPs’ financial declarations.

“These are things we know we can do relatively quickly, if there is support for them,” the person said.

Sand in the gears

Metsola’s overarching idea is to create a latticework of requirements that though never 100 percent foolproof, could lower the chances of a similar scandal happening again.

“We will certainly make it harder. We can put sand in the gears,” the person said, describing the reforms as the biggest shake-up of the Parliament in a generation.

Central to the proposals is a pitch to force any MEPs, assistants or civil servants to disclose who they are meeting when discussing ongoing legislative work, whether or not those meetings take place on parliamentary premises. This would be a significant change — at the moment only rapporteurs or committee chairs are required to make such disclosures. Whenever an MEP is tasked with writing a report, they will have to declare what conflicts of interest they have on that subject matter.

Under the suggested scheme, EU officials will carry out random checks on groups that have signed up — as required — to the transparency register. Anyone representing non-EU countries will also now have to be included in the transparency register in order to lobby.

Pier Antonio Panzeri had unfettered access to the Parliament after leaving in 2019 and establishing an NGO called Fight Impunity

Lessons have also been drawn from the activities of Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former Socialists and Democrats lawmaker who is charged with corruption amid the Qatargate scandal and who had unfettered access to the Parliament after leaving in 2019 and establishing an NGO called Fight Impunity. Now, on top of a new cooling-off period for former MEPs, Metsola has suggested that ex-MEPs no longer get a permanent access badge for the Parliament and instead must sign up each day for a one-day pass at a special desk.

Screws will not only be tightened on MEPs but on their assistants and Parliament civil servants, too. They will be barred from simultaneously holding managerial positions at NGOs. Notably, however, MEPs themselves will not be banned from having second jobs.

When the news erupted last month, Metsola framed the scandal as an attack on EU democracy by foreign powers.

But in truth, Parliament has a shoddy track record of overseeing its own members and enforcing its own internal rules and regulations. Its only organ for policing members’ misdemeanors is a body called the Advisory Committee on the Conduct of Members. Metsola’s proposals are vague when it comes to how they will boost the powers of this panel, made up of MEPs.


Related Articles

Budapest Post
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Hungary ready to sue EU over cuts to Erasmus funding
EU against democracy: Hungary's mail-in poll on Russia sanctions dismissed by Brussels
2023 - The Year of the Rabbit
Israelis rally in three cities against Netanyahu legal reforms
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Dirty bomb fears as URANIUM is found in cargo at Heathrow
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
Clashes erupt in central Paris after shooting at a Kurdish cultural center
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
The EU has outsourced a big chunk of its migration policy to the private sector
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
British PM Rishi Sunak pledges further action on strikes to 'protect lives'
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman