Sunday

21st Apr 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us