The credibility of the European Union is in danger, EU foreign ministers warned Monday. This warning follows allegations that Qatar gave cash and other gifts to European Parliament officials in order to influence decisions-making.
On Monday, Greece frozen the assets of Eva Kaili (a Vice President in the European Parliament) as a crucial suspect. She was one of the four individuals arrested in Belgium over the weekend according to a source who is familiar with the matter.
Kaili’s office didn’t respond to my request for comment. Qatar denies any wrongdoing.
As part of their probe, Belgian prosecutors raided 16 homes and confiscated 600,000.00 euros (or $631.800) in Brussels.
Four unidentified suspects were charged with participating in a criminal organization, money laundering, and corruption, according to prosecutors in a statement issued on Sunday.
At the weekend, the European Parliament stated that Kaili was suspended from her duties. Meanwhile, the Greek socialist PASOK party declared it would expel her.
Sources close to the investigation claim that the other three accused in the case are all Italian nationals — a former EU lawmaker Pier Antonio Panzeri and Francesco Giorgi (a parliamentary assistant), respectively.
Reuters did not respond to emails and calls made to offices in Belgium or to homes via email.
As she arrived in Brussels for her regular meetings with EU counterparts, Annalena Bärbock, German Foreign Minister said that “this is an incredible incident”
“This is all about Europe’s credibility.”
Simon Coveney, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, shared her concerns. It is very damaging. It is essential that we get the root cause of this problem.
Prosecutors in Belgium said that they suspected since months that the Gulf State was looking to purchase influence from Brussels.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the Qatari state is the one responsible. At the weekend, a Qatari official dismissed allegations of misconduct.
The official stated that any association between the Qatari government and the claimed claims was baseless, as well as gravely misinformed.
This investigation is taking place as World Cup host Qatar comes under scrutiny for its human rights record and treatment of migrants.
Kaili, in a speech to the European Parliament at the beginning of the month-long tournament for soccer, lashed out against Qatari detractors and called the energy-rich Gulf State “a leader in labor rights”.
They committed to their vision and opened themselves up to all the possibilities. Some are still calling for discrimination against them. “They bully them, and they accuse anyone who talks (with) them of corruption.” Kaili stated.
This scandal is especially embarrassing for parliament. It has been seen as a moral compass at Brussels and seeks to tighten rules on environment and corporations. Resolutions are issued critical of abuses in human rights around the world.
Ministers quickly condemned the corruption as they arrived at Monday’s EU meeting.
Jan Lipavsky, Czech Foreign Minister said that any type of corruption is unacceptable.
He noted that Qatar is an important energy partner of the EU, and added: “Ofcourse the relationship between the EU and Qatar must be built upon a set policy including labor rights.”
European diplomats state that Qatar is under increasing pressure as it faces a period of severe energy shortages due to the Russian invasion.
This week, the European Parliament will vote on a proposal that would allow visa-free travel within the EU to Kuwait, Qatar Oman, Oman, and Ecuador. Some legislators suggested that the vote be delayed. Some lawmakers have suggested that the vote be delayed. Others called for a discussion on corruption.
At 5 PM (16:00 GMT), the parliament would begin its plenary session in Strasbourg. Many members made the journey from Brussels earlier in the day.