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“An attack on democracy”: 3 keys to the corruption scandal in the European Union (and why it involves Qatar)

The revelations of the last few hours are shaking the European Union.

The Vice President of the European Parliament, eva kailiis among several arrested for corruption allegations allegedly involving Qatarin an alleged plan by that country to gain political influence in Europe.

Look: Belgian police search European Parliament headquarters over Qatargate corruption scandal

Opposition watchdogs and MEPs said the investigation could represent one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of the European Parliament.

Ursula von der Leyenpresident of the European Commission, said that the accusations are “very serious” and raised the creation of a new ethics body for the EU.

For her part, the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, warned that “European democracy is being attacked.”

“Open, free and democratic societies are under attack,” Metsola stressed.

The European Parliament is the only EU institution elected by the population of the 27 member countries of the bloc and its role is to study proposed laws and vote on them.

These are some clues about this scandal that, according to the BBC correspondent in Brussels, Jessica Parker, has left many people speechless.

1. The operation and the arrests

The Belgian police, the main headquarters of the EU, arrested six people in the last few hours, including one of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili.

Four of the detainees have been accused of corruption and money laundering. The other two people were released.

Since Friday, Belgian agents have carried out almost twenty police interventions in Brussels in which seized cash worth $632,000.

Some of the money was in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel room.

They also took computers and mobile phones.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said the allegations are “very serious.” (EPA)

Although they did not publicly identify any suspects, hours later it was learned that Kaili is among those accused.

“Four people have been arrested by the Brussels investigating judge who is leading the investigation,” the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

“They are accused of participating in a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption. Two people have been released by the investigating judge.”

According to the statement, the plot consisted of “paying large sums of money or offering large gifts to third parties with a significant political or strategic position within the European Parliament.”

The president of the body, Roberta Metsola, had to fly from her native Malta to Brussels on Saturday night to witness the search of the house of an MEP, as required by the Belgian constitution.

A Metsola spokesman said it had “decided suspend with immediate effect all powers, duties and tasks that were delegated to Eva Kaili“.

2. Qatar under suspicion

Early reports indicated that prosecutors in the case suspected that a country on the Persian Gulf he had been influencing the economic and political decisions of parliament for months.

Then the media in Belgium Knack Y le soir indicated – citing “informed” sources – that the state in question was Qataralthough the Doha government denies having done anything wrong.

“We are not aware of any details of an investigation. Any allegations of misconduct by the State of Qatar are seriously misinformed,” a Qatari government spokesman told AFP.

The country “operates in full compliance with international laws and regulations,” it added.

The European Parliament is the legislative body of the European Union.  (EPA)

The European Parliament is the legislative body of the European Union. (EPA)

Some European diplomats told the agency Reuters last month that pressure to maintain good relations with Qatar was mounting as Europe heads into a winter of power shortages due to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

The spokesman for the president of the European Parliament said the institution “is strongly opposed to corruption” and is “fully cooperating” with investigators.

The European Parliament postponed the discussion of a project that would benefit several countries, including Qatar, from the visa waiver in the Schengen area.

Von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said that “the accusations against the vice-president of the European Parliament are of the utmost concern, very serious.”

“It’s a matter of people’s trust in our institutions, and this trust in our institutions needs higher standards.”

3. Who is Eva Kaili

Eva Kaili has been an MEP for eight years.

She is a representative for Greece and joined the European Parliament as part of the Group of Socialists and Democrats in parliament.

As a result of these accusations, in addition to being suspended from her European duties, she was expelled from the center-left Greek party Pasok.

Prosecutors in Greece froze all of his assets, according to details of the investigation revealed over the weekend.

In the past, the MEP has been an advocate for Qatar, including on contentious issues.

Kaili met on October 31 with Ali bin Samikh al Marri, the Qatari Labor Minister.  (Reuters)

Kaili met on October 31 with Ali bin Samikh al Marri, the Qatari Labor Minister. (Reuters)

In a speech last month on human rights around the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, he called the country a “leader in labor rights” for abolishing the kafalaa legal framework used in several Persian Gulf states that human rights organizations compare to modern day slavery.

“The World Cup in Qatar is a test, really, of how sports diplomacy can achieve a historic transformation of a country with reforms that inspired the Arab world,” he said.

Qatar has previously been accused of corruption, including in its bid to host the current World Cup. The country has denied the accusations.

Source: Elcomercio

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