EU credibility at stake in European Parliament graft probe, ministers say By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Union Overseas Coverage Chief Josep Borrell arrives to attend a EU-Israel Affiliation Council in Brussels, Belgium October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman

By Philip Blenkinsop and Lefteris Papadimas

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union’s credibility is at stake, EU overseas ministers warned on Monday, following allegations Qatar lavished money and presents on European Parliament officers to affect decision-making.

Greece on Monday froze the property of a key suspect within the case, Eva Kaili, a vp within the European Parliament and one in all 4 folks arrested and charged in Belgium over the weekend, a supply with data of the matter mentioned.

Kaili’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for a remark. Qatar has denied any wrongdoing.

Belgian prosecutors searched 16 homes and seized 600,000 euros ($631,800) in Brussels on Friday as a part of the probe.

4 folks have been subsequently charged with “participation in a legal organisation, cash laundering and corruption,” prosecutors mentioned in a press release on Sunday.

They didn’t identify the suspects, however the European Parliament mentioned on the weekend it had suspended Kaili from her duties, whereas the Greek socialist PASOK celebration introduced it was expelling her from its ranks.

“That is an unbelievable incident which must be cleared up fully with the total power of regulation,” German Overseas Minister Annalena Baerbock mentioned as she arrived for a daily assembly together with her EU counterparts in Brussels.

“That is in regards to the credibility of Europe.”

Irish Overseas Affairs Minister Simon Coveney echoed her concern. “It’s damaging. We have to unravel it.”

Belgian prosecutors mentioned that they had suspected for months {that a} Gulf state was making an attempt to purchase affect in Brussels.

A supply with data of the case mentioned the state was Qatar. A Qatari official denied on the weekend accusations of attainable misconduct.

“Any affiliation of the Qatari authorities with the reported claims is baseless and gravely misinformed,” the official mentioned.


The investigation comes as World Cup host Qatar is within the world highlight, amid criticism of its human rights report, together with its therapy of migrant employees.

In a speech within the European Parliament on Nov. 21, because the month-long soccer match was beginning, Kaili lashed out at Qatar’s detractors and hailed the energy-rich Gulf State as “a frontrunner in labour rights”.

“They dedicated to a imaginative and prescient by alternative and so they opened to the world. Nonetheless some listed below are calling to discriminate them. They bully them and so they accuse everybody that talks to them or engages (with them) of corruption,” Kaili mentioned.

As they arrived at Monday’s EU assembly, ministers have been fast to sentence the alleged corruption.

“It’s completely unacceptable, any sort of corruption,” mentioned Czech Overseas Minister Jan Lipavsky.

“Qatar is a crucial accomplice for the power of the EU,” he famous, whereas including: “In fact the relation between the EU and Qatar must be constructed on a set of insurance policies together with human rights and labor rights.”

Some European diplomats informed Reuters final month that stress to take care of good ties with Qatar was rising because the continent headed in direction of a winter of power shortages due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The European Parliament was because of vote this week on a proposal to increase visa-free journey to the EU for Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Ecuador.

Some lawmakers have advised the vote ought to be postponed. Others have referred to as for a debate on the corruption raids. The European Parliament is about to have a look at each requests in a session that begins at 1600 GMT.

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