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EU Parliament to stop work on Qatar airline, visa laws

EU Parliament to stop work on Qatar airline, visa laws

Lawmakers begin to probe the extent of the Gulf state’s lobbying work.
The European Parliament on Thursday voted to suspend any pending work on legislation relevant to Qatar, including on visa liberalization and any future final green light for an active open skies aviation accord used by Qatar Airways.

As lawmakers start the process of investigating the extent of lobbying work by the Gulf state inside Parliament, plenary backed a resolution Thursday that included an amendment by French left-wing lawmaker Leïla Chaibi committing to pause legislative work and cancel any planned MEP visits to Doha.

The resolution reads that Parliament "suspends all work on legislative files relating to Qatar ... until the allegations have either been confirmed or dismissed."

However, at least for airlines, the Parliament's decision will have little tangible impact since the open skies deal with Qatar is already in effect. MEPs only get a final approval once all member countries have ratified the deal, signed in 2021.

So far only six countries have: Austria, Latvia, Greece, Ireland, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

One EU official said it could be up to a decade until the legislation returns to the Parliament, so that is unlikely to happen before any investigation into the corruption scandal closes.

However, MEPs in Strasbourg were originally poised to vote this week to allow nationals of both Qatar and Kuwait to travel to the EU for 90 days without a visa.

Following the plenary vote, the chair of the Parliament’s transport committee, French Green Karima Delli, said she wanted an “active role” in any inquiry which should “shed light on the transparency of the legislative work, in particular that related to the air agreement with Qatar.”
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