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European Union Corruption Scandal Exposed

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European Union Corruption Scandal

The European Union’s political institutions are in disarray, with a cash-for-favors corruption scandal engulfing the European Parliament and threatening to spread.

Former European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili is one of four people detained on suspicion of “participation in a criminal organization, money laundering, and corruption,” according to Belgian prosecutors.

She has already been kicked out of political parties and organizations, as well as stripped of her vice presidency, after being accused of accepting bribes from Qatar.

The alleged links between Kaili and Doha are gleaming speeches about the Gulf state in the European Parliament, voting in favour of files related to Qatar in committees on which she did not sit, and attending numerous unregistered events in the country.

In an online statement, Qatar’s Mission to the EU called the allegations “baseless and gravely misinformed.”

While official details about the scope and depth of the Belgian police investigation remain scarce, the activities of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and other EU bodies will now be scrutinized more closely.

European Union Corruption Scandal Exposes Lobbyists and Loopholes

European Union experts are questioning  current anti-corruption measures are adequate.

“When policy making is highly complex and entrenched, as it is in the EU, it becomes opaque, which makes it easier to buy influence,” Jacob Kirkegaard of the German Marshall Fund told DW News. “A vice president of the European Parliament can be purchased for €600,000!” “Are they really that inexpensive?”

“This is clearly a woman who was unconcerned about being caught.” It shows that the European Parliament’s measures and processes have no deterrent effect,” he said. “Even stupid people would not do it if they were afraid.”

It maintains a database in which non-governmental organizations, lobbying groups, consultants, charities, and other organizations seeking to influence legislation must register.

European Union Corruption Scandal Exposes Lobbyists and Loopholes

All those listed in the Transparency Register are required to declare their budgets and any donations to NGOs exceeding €10,000 (approximately $10,545).

Fighting Impunity, the NGO at the centre of the current corruption scandal, is not on the list.

Its president, Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former Italian MEP, is also detained. Francesco Giorgi, Eva Kaili’s partner, also works there. Fighting Impunity also shares an office with the Italian non-profit No Peace Without Justice, the director of which was also arrested in this case.

“With the system’s flaws, this was bound to happen,” Paul Varakas, president of the Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP), which assists lobbyists in registering with the Transparency Register, told DW.

In 2021, the European Parliament refused to apply the Transparency Register’s “strict conditionality” principle, which would have required them to meet only with registered lobbyists.

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