European Union has a ‘design flaw’ says expert
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Top MEP Eva Kaili has denied charges of corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organisation with Qatar, as she has become engulfed in a major scandal rocking the European Union. The EU Parliament is reeling amid a sprawling inquiry into allegations that World Cup host Qatar has paid for influence in Europe. The Belgian federal police have raided at least 20 offices and residences in the country and Italy as part of an investigation that has so far uncovered €1.5million in stacks of euros stashed in a suitcase, a briefcase and even a paper bag.
Eva Kaili’s lawyer said in a statement the MEP is innocent, adding: “She has nothing to do with financing from Qatar, nothing – explicitly and unequivocally. That is her position.”
So far, police inquiries launched by Belgian prosecutor Michel Claise have landed four people in jail, including former Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili.
While the identity of other EU official detained remains confidential, it was reported Eva Kaili’s father, Kaili’s partner and members of NGO Fight Impunity have also been arrested.
The scandal has sparked a frenzy in the EU Institution, with parliamentarians scrambling to check whether Qatar exerted disproportionate influence on a transport deal that gives Qatar Airways unlimited access to the EU’s market.
After days of intense debate, Members of the European Parliament have adopted a resolution to prevent such foreign interference from ever infiltrating the EU, with an overwhelming majority of 541-2, with three abstentions.
MEPs agreed they should create a position of vice-president entrusted with the role of fighting corruption and foreign influence in the Parliament, as well as a special committee to find out “potential flaws” in the Parliament’s transparency rules.
They are also demanding the European Commission set up an independent watchdog. As for Qatar, MEPs call for the end of “all work on legislative files related to Qatar.” It also would strip the access badges “of Qatari interests representatives.”
After a meeting with EU leaders to discuss the corruption scandal, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said at a press conference that leaders showed her “lots of support … for the way that the Parliament has handled this matter.”
The Parliament President repeated her earlier pledge pledge to clean up any influence peddling going on: “There will be no impunity; there will be no sweeping under the carpet.”
In an effort to crack down on any future bribery, President Metsola added: “It is essential that these people understand that they will get caught. That there will be consequences. That our services work and that they will face the full extent of the law. That is the rule of law. That is how we respond and rebuild trust.”
President Metsola, who was herself invited to the World Cup, said she declined the invitation “because I had concerns about that country.”
She also admited having meetings with Qatar representatives in Brussels but rejected invitations when they were made.
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While most EU officials have refused Qatar’s invitations, French President Emmanuel Macron spent Thursday evening with the French football team in Qatar after “Les Bleus” snatched a 2-0 victory against Morroco.
Since her detention last Friday, Greek MEP Eva Kaili has been held at Brussels’ Saint-Gilles prison – a neo-medieval detention centre, which infamously hosted inmates like the British nurse Edith Cavell.
The now ex-European Parliament Vice President of the Socialists & Democrats group will be judged at a hearing rescheduled for December 22 due to a strike at the prison where she is being held.
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