1st Dec 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.

Orban's sovereignty bill seen as fresh attack on rule of law

Hungary's new sovereignty law has been criticised by the opposition as 'another dark milestone' for the country's democratic values and the rule of law — and it could bring yet another clash between Budapest and Brussels.


How Wilders' Dutch extremism goes way beyond Islamophobia

Without losing sight of his pervasive Islamophobia, it is essential to note Geert Wilders' far-right extremism extends to other issues that could drastically alter the nature of Dutch politics — and end its often constructive role in advancing EU policies.

Latest News

  1. Israel recalls ambassador to Spain in new diplomatic spat
  2. Migrant return bill 'obstructed' as EU states mull new position
  3. Paris and Berlin key to including rape in gender-violence directive
  4. What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?
  5. 'Pay or okay?' — Facebook & Instagram vs the EU
  6. EU offers Turkey upgrade, as Sweden nears Nato entry
  7. Russia loses seat on board of chemical weapons watchdog
  8. Finland's closure of Russia border likely violates asylum law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us