Brussels-based expert: allegations of bribery and corruption at the European Parliament demonstrate the ‘failing’ assembly should be scrapped once and for all .
Pieter Cleppe, a research fellow at Property Rights Alliance, spoke during a stormy time in which police searched more than 20 addresses and four individuals were accused with corruption, criminal group membership, and money laundering, including Greek MEP Eva Kaili.
Belgian police have not named the countries accused of giving cash or gifts to officials, but many members of the assembly and some Belgian media have connected the inquiry to World Cup hosts Qatar.
Mr. Cleppe told Express.co.uk that the bloc should pull the plug. European Parliament corruption scandals aren’t new. In the 2011 cash-for-influence scandal, MEPs were convicted for receiving bribes. The EPs’ excessive expenditures scheme exposes the institution’s contempt for taxpayers.
Mr. Cleppe said, “The European Parliament’s travelling circus to Strasbourg continues to be a running scandal.”
“Fundamentally, the European Parliament is not an effective check on executive power.” Despite criticism from the EU’s accounting agency, the European Parliament has never refused to approve the EU’s budget. MEPs love to lecture the world, but they don’t hold EU institutions accountable.
Mr. Cleppe said, “The original idea of a European Parliament as a check on EU power makes sense, but clearly, the European Parliament has failed to fulfil this task successfully, both when it comes to reining in the EU machine and its own financial accountability”
The controversy, which started last week, has harmed the EU’s sole entity with directly elected members.
EU expert Hendrik Vos of Ghent University said, “It is so profound because it jars so fundamentally with what parliament pretends to stand for.”
“The parliament pretends to stand for transparency, unable to be bribed, to defend fundamental values. And then you get something like this.”
Parliament President Roberta Metsola said Monday that “European democracy is under attack”
Belgian authorities seized computer files from the assembly’s Brussels office while it was in Strasbourg, France.
Hundreds of thousands of euros were discovered in houses and a hotel luggage.
General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation Luca Visentini, who was questioned by investigators, said he is “absolutely committed to the fight against corruption.”
MEPs decided yesterday to end Ms Kaili’s tenure as a Vice-President. Former TV host Ms Kaili, 44, is a parliament member for the PASD.
Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella resigned Monday, hinting he may be charged. Three additional S&D MPs have temporarily ceased executing senior jobs because their assistants were involved.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry calls the claims “baseless and gravely misinformed.”
Qatar has gotten some positive assessments in Europe this year, but it would be impossible to prove that officials were paid to do so.
European Commission members, including Ms. Kaili, commended Qatar’s employment reforms before the World Cup.
In April, the commission launched a push to enable visa-free travel for Qataris with biometric passports who wish to visit Europe for short stays, but the parliament has withdrawn from the process due to the probe.
Politico reports European legislators are investigating whether Qatar influenced an air transport pact giving Qatar Airways full access to the EU market.