Many of you have asked me about the corruption scandal in the European Parliament. I have to say I am still super shocked by what happened. Here are some first thoughts:
What happened: Apparently, 6 people got arrested and 4 charged this weekend, likely for receiving money from Qatar. Among them are former assistants, a former MEP, and Eva Kaili, an active MEP and current Vice-President of Parliament. Qatar is supposed to have bribed the individuals for a more positive stance on human rights and for a positive vote on a ‘visa liberalization’ deal, which would allow for more seamless travel between Qatar and the EU.
While everyone should be seen as innocent before proven guilty, there are two facts which speak against the accused: Apparently €600k in cash was found and you can only arrest an MEP if they are in the process of committing the crime. We all await more information to get a more complete image.
The effect: The damage lies not only in the potentially changed texts and votes. It also lies in a huge loss of trust: The fact that proceedings in the European Parliament could potentially have been altered for personal gain and on behalf of another country is outrageous!! This affair therefore fundamentally harms the reputation of our European Parliament and the EU.
What we can do: We need to review our systems and structures. Many ideas are already circulating, I find these below especially important:
All EU institutions, member states as much as Parliamentarians and their assistants should register all interest group meetings, including those with representatives from countries outside the EU!
Side income, general expenditure usage, and other financial transactions by Parliamentarians should be transparently reported!
Governance structures need to be reviewed and decision-making bodies should be set-up to ensure the maximum transparency in our proceedings!
As a final note: This scandal is especially shocking for me, as I know Eva Kaili as a friendly colleague. If the allegations as per her involvement are true, I hope that others take her example as a threat of how much harm you will do to our institutions, to others and yourself if you go down such a criminal path.