There is fear among MEPs about the impact of the bribery scandal

Rigorous approach, fresh system and clean record. With this message, the European Parliament is trying to define the issue this week in Strasbourg, a month after a major corruption scandal was revealed. But while MEPs argue about how strict the new lobbying rules will be, uncertainty remains about the impact and scope of the scandal.

Through a series of raids and home searches, the Belgian judiciary uncovered a bribery case in and around the European Parliament at the beginning of December. In addition to the Gulf state of Qatar, Morocco is also said to have influenced European decision-making through money and gifts. Since then, four people have been arrested, including Greek MP Eva Kaili and former Italian MP Antonio Panziri.

On Monday, the President of the European Parliament officially started the procedures for lifting the parliamentary immunity of two other members of the European Parliament, in response to a request from the Belgian judiciary. It concerns the Belgian Marc Tarabella and the Italian Andrea Cozzolino, both of whom are part of the Social Democratic group.

In principle, MEPs have immunity – unless they are caught in the act, like Kylie with bags full of cash. In the coming weeks, Tarabella and Cozzolino will have the opportunity to defend themselves against the request, after which the European Parliament could effectively lift the immunity in February.

Whether you stay here? One month after the first revelations, MEPs still fear the scope of the scandal. Last week, Belgian Socialist Member of the European Parliament Marie Arena resigned from her post-HRC chair Policy She revealed that she had not reported a paid flight to Qatar.

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Meanwhile, debate has begun within the European Parliament over which new measures should reduce the risk of recurrence. Last week, Chairman Roberta Metsola presented a fourteen-point plan that should be implemented within a month. This includes a proposal for a cooling-off period for former MEPs who want to lobby, a commitment to make meetings with third parties public, and a ban on so-called ‘friendship groups’ with third countries – according to disguised lobbying vehicles criticized.

The Social Democrats want, among other things, greater whistleblower protection

But the question of whether the plan goes far enough was immediately moot. The Social Democrats in particular, which plays a pivotal role in the corruption scandal, are taking pains to show their tougher side. The party wants, among other things, greater protection for whistleblowers. Left-wing and green groups in the European Parliament also see the proposals as too weak and also want mandatory transparency around declaring assets, for example. On the other hand, centre-right MEPs fear the new bureaucracy and defend the freedom that should come with an elected mandate.


Thus, after the initial shock, the scandal and the response to it with kindness has now become more politicized. Certainly because only the Social Democratic group is still under suspicion, blame and accusations from other parties are under way.

When the European Parliament debates the scandal for the second time this Tuesday, it is expected to surface. The reason for this is that the parties are exploiting the positions of the Social Democrats MPs who are now under suspicion – this week first and foremost that of Kylie, who was also the vice-president.

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Elections loom in just over a year. Now that the European Parliament’s reputation has taken such a blow, the question is whether there will be enough time to restore it. On Monday, Metsola called for every effort to be made to restore citizens’ trust. Our house is an example of European parliamentary democracy and I need your help to strengthen its foundations.

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