4th Feb 2023


Ethics after Qatargate

  • Large sums of cash seized, including sacks of banknotes, from the father of one of the lawmakers at the centre of the scandal (Photo: Helena Malikova)

The European Parliament is reeling from corruption allegations involving the Gulf state of Qatar.

Members' offices have been sealed. Raids have been carried out by Italian and Belgian authorities. And large sums of cash seized including sacks of banknotes from the father of one of the lawmakers at the centre of the scandal.

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That lawmaker, Eva Kaili, was with the Greek socialist Pasok party. She was a vice president of the European Parliament — and she'd been strongly promoting Qatar.

Kaili has now been stripped of her title and is in custody. Of course it's far from the first corruption scandal in the EU.

But in this case there's the promise of further lurid revelations of cash-fuelled influence peddling on a much bigger scale than previously thought.

And now the race is on to apportion blame.

Some lawmakers suggest malign foreign interference is mainly responsible. Others say non-governmental organisations and campaign groups should be in the crosshairs.

Still others stress that there will always be bad apples and so there should be no need for collective guilt in a parliament with 705 members.

But such finger-pointing mostly amounts to denial and deflection. That's because the dumpster fire at the European Parliament may be largely of the EU's own making.

Foreign governments still can meet lawmakers largely undetected, and there's still no central independent investigator and no system for anonymous whistle-blowers.

It's what Transparency International calls a complete lack of independent ethics oversight.

And while the EU has many gifted politicians and policymakers who are above reproach — still too many are low-grade national party hacks and worse.

One of the leading voices on making the EU more accountable and transparent is Alberto Alemanno. Alberto is Jean Monnet Professor in European Union Law at HEC Paris, and he sits on the board of several civil society organisations. He's also a good sport for taking a scooter through downtown Brussels, in the dark, on an icy evening, to come talk about, yes, 'Qatargate'.

Author bio

EU Scream is the progressive politics podcast from Brussels. Produced by James Kanter with graphics by Helena Malikova and music by Lara Natale.

You may also follow via @euscreams subscribe via iTunes, Spotify or from the EU Scream website.


'Qatargate' is the tip of the iceberg

To those of us who have been working for years to cast a light on EU corruption, this latest scandal is not a shock, or even a surprise — it's just the tip of the iceberg.


How to restore the European Parliament's reputation

One of the most striking features of this scandal is the fact that it was the Belgian police — working on this case for months — who spotted what was arguably hiding in plain sight, writes EU Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly.

Mars, god of war, returns to Europe

Political scientist David Rowe has been looking into why so much of Europe wasn't ready for Putin — and the consequences for the Western allies of not spilling their own blood in Ukraine.

EU lobby register still riddled with errors

The EU's lobby register remains riddled with errors, with pro-transparency campaigners demanding better data and mandatory rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of Qatargate.

Ethics after Qatargate

The dumpster fire at the European Parliament may be largely of the EU's own making.

Bad Karma

While the European Union openly criticises China for abusing its the mostly Muslim Uyghur population, the EU turns a blind eye to the way India treats its own Muslim minority — because it wants India as a strategic ally.

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