‘It’s a disgrace and it makes Europe weaker’: MEPs respond to corruption scandal

The arrest of four people in connection with an anti-corruption investigation involving members of the European Parliament could shake Brussels to its core.

Some MEPs, including vice-president Eva Kaili, have been accused of accepting large sums of money from a Gulf country reported to be World Cup hosts Qatar. Doha has denied the accusations.

The co-president of the Greens group, Philippe Lamberts, called for a parliamentary inquiry and for the issue of corruption to be brought up this week at the year’s last EU assembly’s plenary session.

Niels Fuglsang, a MEP with the Danish Social Democratic Party, pointed to the damaging effect this scandal could have on the bloc.

“If we can be bought. If members of the European Parliament and other politicians can be bought to say certain things, to vote in certain ways… It’s a disgrace and it makes Europe weaker,” he told Euronews.

“So, it’s in everybody’s interest that we get to the bottom of this and adopt rules to make sure such things must never happen [again]… That [what happened] is very wrong, and we have a big reparation job to do.”

On Friday, Belgian police staged 16 raids across Brussels. Around €600,000 in cash was seized, in addition to computer equipment and mobile telephones.

Kaili has since been arrested and charged. And she has been stripped of her duties as vice-president of the European Parliament.

Some experts have argued in light of the scandal that the EU should now strengthen its anti-corruption legislation.

“I would believe – and I do believe – that it would be very important that the EU seriously thinks about these questions and prepares itself for situations like this in the future,” Tamás Lattmann, an expert on international and European law, told Euronews.

“[It should] propose some kind of legislation of its own to handle situations like this, and to make the possible cooperation with member-states’ authorities much more seamless and to some extent, more guaranteed.”

Before the scandal broke, the assembly was considering visa free entry into the Schengen zone for Qatari citizens.

But the European People’s Party, the Social Democrats, the Liberals and the Greens have since called for the suspension of the assembly’s vote on the issue.

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