22nd Sep 2023

Avramopoulos met EU officials while on Fight Impunity payroll

Listen to article

Former EU commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos held meetings with EU commission vice-presidents at a time when he was being paid by Fight Impunity, an NGO linked to the Qatari corruption allegations.

In a statement on Tuesday (20 December), the European Commission said his recent meetings held between Vera Jourova and Johannes Hahn were of a "private nature".

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

  • He met with nine EU commissioners while on the Fight Impunity payroll (Photo: Avramopoulos)

But Avramopoulos also held meetings with commission vice-presidents in November 2021, before the end of his two-year 'cooling-off' period on 1 December 2021.

The period bans him from lobbying European Commissioners on behalf of the NGO on matters for which he was responsible during his mandate.

And meetings relating to EU policy can only take place if lobbyists are in the EU transparency register, an online database of special interest groups.

Fight Impunity was not in that register.

But a commission spokesperson said there is also no general ban on Avramopoulos meeting commissioners or their staff.

The question was posed because the president of Fight Impunity, Italian ex-socialist MEP Antonio Panzeri, is currently in jail along with his former parliamentary assistant, Francesco Giorgi.

Their alleged corruption scandal also reportedly spans Morocco influence peddling.

Avramopoulos served as EU home affairs commissioner from 2014 to 2019 and dealt with issues like migration and security.

He sat on the board of Fight Impunity along with former EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, former French prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Italian senator Emma Bonino and former MEP Cecilia Wikström. He said his role was completely without executive or management responsibilities.

"For my participation and the compensation that would accompany it, I requested the approval of the European Commission, which was given to me in writing by president [Ursula] von der Leyen", he said.

Italian newspaper La Stampa revealed Fight Impunity paid him €60,000 for his work between February 2021 and February 2022.

During that time he held meetings with nine EU commissioners.

"Visit to Brussels and meetings with good friends and colleagues from @EU_Commission," he said, in Tweet on November 2021.

The tweet shows images of himself along with European Commissioners, either standing in an office or by EU flags.

This includes executive vice-president Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager, as well as vice-presidents Maroš Šefčovič, Věra Jourová, Margaritis Schinas, and commissioners Stella Kyriakides, Mariya Gabriel, Ylva Johansson and Johannes Hahn.

Stella Kyriakides said they discussed the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is unclear what other subjects were discussed.

In July, he tweeted another image of himself on holiday in Greece with EU budget commissioner, Johannes Hahn.

And in October, he tweeted he had dinner with EU transparency commissioner, Věra Jourová.

The revelations also come at a time when Avramopoulos is vying to become the next EU special representative for relations with the Gulf countries.

Avramopoulos has since accused people in Italy of trying to distort his image over Fight Impunity in order to weaken his chances of landing the job. Other contenders include former Slovak foreign minister Jan Kubiš, former Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio, and former Cypriot commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

EU parliament suspends Kaili's VP 'duties' over Qatar scandal

European Parliament vice-president Eva Kaili has had her tasks suspended but retains her seat until a formal vote is taken. The move follows allegations of corruption as well as a spate of arrests by the Belgian police, involving €600,000 cash.


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.


Orbán's 'revenge law' is an Orwellian crackdown on education

On Tuesday, the Hungarian parliament passed a troubling piece of legislation known by its critics as the 'revenge law', which aims to punish and intimidate teachers who dare to defy Viktor Orbán's regime. This law is a brutally oppressive tool.

Latest News

  1. Here's the headline of every op-ed imploring something to stop
  2. Report: Tax richest 0.5%, raise €213bn for EU coffers
  3. EU aid for Africa risks violating spending rules, Oxfam says
  4. Activists push €40bn fossil subsidies into Dutch-election spotlight
  5. Europe must Trump-proof its Ukraine arms supplies
  6. Antifascism and fascism are opposites, whatever elites say
  7. MEPs back Germany's Buch to lead ECB supervisory arm
  8. Russia to blame for Azerbaijan attack, EU says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us