Budapest Post

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

EU Parliament ‘under attack’ as Qatar corruption scandal grows

EU Parliament ‘under attack’ as Qatar corruption scandal grows

Belgian police raid more offices and seize a suitcase full of cash.

Police launched a fresh wave of raids on political figures in Brussels over alleged corruption involving Qatari interests Monday, in a scandal that threatens to trash European Union democracy.

“The European Parliament,” said its president, Roberta Metsola, at a session in Strasbourg on Monday, “is under attack.”

The focal point for that attack, for now, is the Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group. In Brussels, police raided the parliamentary office of Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who is currently in a jail cell as she awaits a court appearance, slated for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, her colleagues in Strasbourg expelled her from the S&D group as her MEP colleagues prepared to strip her of her vice president title.

Several other S&D members — not directly implicated but under scrutiny for their connections to those charged and their advocacy on behalf of Qatar — also agreed to step away from key assignments, including MEP Marie Arena as chair of the Parliament’s human rights subcommittee.

MEP Eva Kaili has been imprisoned and charged with corruption

In all, Belgian police tallied six arrests (though two individuals, Kaili’s father and the trade union boss Luca Visentini, have been released) and searched 19 private homes. The cops’ cash haul includes €600,000 in a private home, “several hundred thousand euros” in a suitcase nabbed at a Brussels hotel, and €150,000 at Kaili’s apartment. Her family’s assets in Greece have been frozen.

After blocking access to IT equipment over the weekend, police said they retrieved the data on Monday. In addition to Kaili’s office, two assistants’ offices were also marked “Access Forbidden” on Monday afternoon. One labeled F. Giorgi — Kaili’s partner, also under arrest — and the other labeled E. Foulon and G. Meroni. The latter is a former assistant to Pier Antonio Panzeri, the ex-MEP at the center of the alleged scandal.

European Democracy itself is facing an “attack,” Metsola told the plenary as she vowed to open an internal probe.

The call for an investigation was echoed by MEPs in Strasbourg, and across the bloc. “Europe’s credibility is at stake,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

For watchdogs, however, the threat to Europe’s credibility has always been clear. The scandal is not an attack but “self inflicted damage,” tweeted The Good Lobby founder Alberto Alemanno in response to Metsola’s speech. “The EU Parliament and most of its members have historically resisted stricter integrity rules and effective enforcement system.”

The EU’s transparency register is full of loopholes and voluntary elements: The Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, for example, hosted Panzeri’s NGO, Fight Impunity, to deliver reports, even though it was not listed in the transparency register.

Based on its activities, Fight Impunity should have been entered in the database, said the register’s secretariat in an email. But since they’re not legally obligated to register, there’s no way to punish them for breaching the register’s code of conduct.

Similarly, a proposal for an independent EU ethics panel has been stalled in the Commission. Vice President for Transparency Věra Jourová has cited legal hurdles and lack of interest in an ethics body that would apply to all the institutions and actually have enforcement power.

On Monday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed fresh determination to create an overarching watchdog body. “It is very critical to have not only strong rules but the same rules covering all the EU institutions and not to allow for any exemptions,” she told reporters.

But for all the talk of protecting trust and promoting transparency in EU institutions, top officials resisted early opportunities to put it into practice. Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant quickly shut down questions when journalists tried to press von der Leyen about tweets by Margaritis Schinas, a Commission vice president, in which he had praised Qatar’s labor reforms ahead of the World Cup.

It was a similar (virtual) scene in Strasbourg, where a Parliament spokesman declined to take questions from reporters in an online press conference.

“Our way of open, free, democratic societies are under attack,” Metsola declared in Strasbourg. “The enemies of democracy for whom the very existence of this Parliament is a threat, will stop at nothing. These malign actors, linked to autocratic third countries have allegedly weaponized NGOs, unions, individuals, assistants and Members of the European Parliament in an effort to subdue our processes.”

In Budapest, Viktor Orbán, who leads a country the European Parliament declared “no longer a democracy,” seized his moment. The Hungarian prime minister tweeted a morning greeting to the parliament, with a photo of former world leaders in stitches. The caption: “And then they said … The EP is seriously concerned about corruption in Hungary.”


Related Articles

Budapest Post
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
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'