“European democracy is under attack”: the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola strongly promised on Monday to reform the institution shaken by an alleged corruption scandal involving Qatar.
Belgian police raided the premises of Parliament in Brussels on Monday after the incarceration of Greek elected representative Eva Kaili on Sunday.
This socialist MEP, who occupies one of the 14 vice-presidencies, is suspected of having been paid by Doha to defend the interests of the emirate which currently hosts the World Cup.
Three other people were incarcerated in this investigation.
The sums seized during the 20 searches carried out to date are spectacular: “600,000 euros at the home of one of the suspects, several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a room of a Brussels hotel and 150,000 euros approximately in an apartment belonging to an MEP ”, according to the count of the federal prosecution.
Roberta Metsola expressed “fury, anger and sadness” in the Strasbourg hemicycle on Monday afternoon. “There will be no impunity […] nothing will be swept under the carpet”, she promised, announcing an “internal investigation” to examine all the facts related to the European Parliament and to ensure that the institution improves its procedures.
“We will launch a reform process to see who has access to our premises, how these organizations, NGOs and people are financed, what links they have with third countries, we will ask for more transparency on meetings with foreign actors”, promised M.me Metsola.
No parliamentary immunity
As of Saturday evening, Eva Kaili had been removed from all the tasks delegated by President Roberta Metsola, including that of representing her in the Middle East region.
Tuesday morning, the Conference of Presidents, the political body of the European Parliament, should launch the procedure to vote for the withdrawal of her position as Vice-President for “serious misconduct”.
Excluded from the Greek Socialist Party (Pasok-Kinal) of which she was already a controversial figure, but also on Monday from her political group in the European Parliament (S & D, left), Eva Kaili did not benefit from her parliamentary immunity because the violation was found in flagrante delicto. “Bags of tickets” were discovered in his apartment.
Whether or not he will be kept in detention, like that of the three other people imprisoned, will be examined on Wednesday before the Brussels council chamber.
His assets were also frozen on Monday by the Greek Anti-Money Laundering Authority.
“These allegations are extremely concerning. It is a question of trust in the people at the heart of our institutions”, reacted the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, recalling having proposed the creation of an “independent authority” on questions of ethics.
Doha has denied being involved in corruption attempts. “Any allegation of misconduct by the State of Qatar is seriously misinformation,” a Qatari government official said on Saturday.
Chance of the calendar, the European Parliament had to look into the facilitation of visas for Kuwait and Qatar. The subject was removed from the agenda. And the debate scheduled for Wednesday on “the defense of democracies against foreign interference” promises to be agitated.
“We must be firm against corruption,” called for Iratxe Garcia Perez, president of the S & D group, which included Eva Kaili.
“We will not allow our work to be soiled, we will not allow this Parliament to be soiled, we will not allow Europe to be soiled”, launched for his part the Frenchman Stéphane Séjourné, president of the Renew group (centrists and liberals).
Former television presenter aged 44, Eva Kaili, MEP since 2014 and elected in January 2022 to one of the vice-presidencies of the European Parliament, went to Qatar in early November where she greeted, in the presence of the Minister Qatari Labor, the emirate’s reforms in this sector.
The organization of the World Cup by Qatar bears witness to the “historic transformation of a country whose reforms have inspired the Arab world”, also said Mr.me Kaili on November 21 at the rostrum of Parliament.
The new case seems to have amused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “Hello to the European Parliament! “, he quipped on Twitter while his country is pinned by the European institutions for its level of corruption.