Tuesday

26th Oct 2021

Fidesz MEP oversees FOI appeals on disgraced Fidesz MEP

Disgraced Hungarian former MEP and co-founder of Fidesz, József Szájer, could be entitled to over €100,000 from the European Parliament.

Szájer stepped down in shame as an MEP after being caught by police leaving a gay orgy during an illegal lockdown party in Brussels last November.

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But the parliament has so far denied freedom of information requests lodged by EUobserver on 1 February, asking to know if he had indeed taken the sum and if so how much.

The appeal against the requests have since been delayed twice, due to "internal consultations."

However, the MEP in charge of appeals is also from Fidesz, Livia Jaroka. She is also a European Parliament vice-president.

It is unclear if Jaroka herself is holding up the appeals.

But appeals do not get past her desk without her signature - posing questions on the impartiality and credibility of the European Parliament's wider system on access to documents.

Aside from belonging to the same political party, Jaroka and Szájer have, in the past, jointly filed amendments together.

VoteWatch data suggests Jaroka's loyalty to her national party, Fidesz, is 98.59 percent.

Before the scandal, the Fidesz co-founder had gained a reputation for rolling back LGBTi rights in Hungary and advocating conservative family values.

A subsequent Fidesz party statement made no mention of the scandal.

"We look forward to his cooperation and suggestions for improvement going forward!" it stated.

But his abrupt departure from the European Parliament also means he is able to claim a so-called transitional allowance.

A transitional allowance is equivalent to an MEP's salary, for one month per year they were in office, and can be paid out for a maximum of two years.

An MEP's base salary as of July 2020 is €7,011.74 after taxes. Szájer had been an MEP since 2004.

A European Parliament spokesperson downplayed Jaroka's role in appeals, noting that final decisions are made by the Bureau.

The Bureau is a political body composed of the parliament president, the 14 parliament vice-presidents and five MEPs who hold the title 'quaestor.'

"The decision is prepared by the services of Mrs Járóka, whatever the case is presented, and according to existing case law," said the spokesperson.

But a report out earlier this year by Transparency International EU, an NGO, has faulted the European Parliament on access requests.

"In practice, the EP's disclosure of documents has been unsatisfactory," it said.

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