A month after the corruption scandal surfaced in the European Parliament, Parliament Speaker Roberta Metsola announced a series of countermeasures. Metsola said yesterday in Strasbourg at the beginning of the first week of the year that she wants to prevent bribery attempts in coordination with the leaders of the parliamentary group and “repel foreign influence”.
Metsola said the European Parliament must “restore the confidence of the European citizens we represent”. To this end, it wants to “ban all activities” that could be confused with the official activities of Parliament.
Metsola’s previously announced 14-point plan states, among other things, that MEPs and EU Parliament staff must make public “all planned meetings with third parties” in relation to parliamentary decisions. A public record of gifts received by MEPs and trips funded by them is also planned.
At the beginning of December, Belgian investigators searched the private rooms and offices of deputies on suspicion of corruption and seized nearly 1.5 million euros. Then-Vice-Speaker Eva Cayley and her partner Francesco Giorgi, who also works in Parliament, were arrested along with two other suspects and are in custody.
Two immunity must be raised
In Strasbourg, Metsola officially announced the request of the Belgian authorities to withdraw the immunity of two deputies. It is about Belgian MP Marc Tarabella and Italian MP Andrea Cozzolino. Both belong to the Social Democratic Party. At the beginning of January, Parliament had already announced the initiation of an urgent procedure.
Mitsola referred the proposal to the Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee. This can schedule a hearing and make a recommendation. The plenary session then decides to withdraw the immunity of the deputies.
In Trabella, investigators searched his private rooms during several raids in December. On Sunday, his lawyer also told Belgian broadcaster RTL that Trabella had taken a trip to the Gulf state paid for by Qatar in February 2020, but that he had not reported this trip to the European Parliament as required.
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