Monday

25th Jan 2021

Barroso faces questions over domestic scandal

  • The donation was made shortly before Mr Barroso became prime minister in 2002 (Photo: EUobserver)

European lawmakers want to see European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso grilled over a scandal involving funds to his Social Democratic Party in Portugal – something also likely to fall under a criminal investigation by the Portuguese state prosecutor.

"These findings cannot be dismissed as an internal problem. [They] test Barroso's integrity and independence", a Belgian green MEP Bart Staes told the Financial Times in response to the scandal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Doubts centre around the payment made by construction and engineering company Somague to the Social democratic Party (PSD) at the time when Mr Barroso led the party. He was elected president of the PSD in 1999 and became prime minister in April 2002.

According to the FT, Somague paid the social democrats €233,000 for services provided to the party by a public relations company. Portugal's constitutional court ruled in June this year that such a payment exceeded the legal limit set for private donations to political parties.

A new shadow of suspicion has fallen on the case since the June ruling. The PSD's finance director – now public works minister – reportedly petitioned the state prosecutor's office in favour of the construction company in the adjudication of a motorway construction and operation contract.

The contract had been awarded by a previous socialist government to a consortium competing with Somague, which challenged the decision.

The former PSD's general secretary Jose Luis Arnaut has accepted "objective responsibility" for the funding, but claims he was not aware of the facts at the time.

Some point out that Mr Barroso heading the party at the time should also take responsibility, with members of the European Parliament urging him to reveal what precisely he knew about the payment.

The commission president's spokesperson declined to comment on the case, underlining that "this is a national issue". She added, however, Mr Barroso was ready to answer any questions the Portuguese authorities and MEPs might raise.

Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks

Street violence in Russia redoubled calls for new sanctions when foreign ministers meet on Monday, after eight EU states earlier proposed asset-freezes and visa-bans.

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'

MEPs called for a new law guaranteeing workers can 'disconnect' outside work hours, without repercussion. But they also passed a last-minute amendment, calling on the commission to delay any legislation for three years.

Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge

The EU's hotspot of Moria, a sprawling ghetto-like camp for migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, burned down last September. EU leaders declared such scenes would never be replicated. But its replacement faces similar problems.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Agenda

Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK

The director of the European Medicine Agency, Emer Cooke will be quizzed by MEPs in the parliament on vaccine authorisation on Tuesday. EMA is expected to give the green light to the third vaccine at the end of the week.

News in Brief

  1. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  2. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  3. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  4. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  5. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  6. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  7. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party
  8. German far-right party sues to avoid stigma

Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge

The EU's hotspot of Moria, a sprawling ghetto-like camp for migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, burned down last September. EU leaders declared such scenes would never be replicated. But its replacement faces similar problems.

Agenda

Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK

The director of the European Medicine Agency, Emer Cooke will be quizzed by MEPs in the parliament on vaccine authorisation on Tuesday. EMA is expected to give the green light to the third vaccine at the end of the week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  2. Why Russia politics threaten European security
  3. MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'
  4. Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge
  5. Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity
  6. Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK
  7. Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?
  8. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us