Saturday

4th Feb 2023

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

Listen to article

European Parliament vice-president Eva Kaili has had her tasks and duties suspended but retains her seat until a formal vote is taken.

The move follows allegations of corruption likely over Qatar as well as a spate of arrests by the Belgian police, involving some €600,000 in cash, as first reported by Belgian media outlets Le Soir and Knack.

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

Kaili has since been expelled from the Greek socialist Pasok party as well as from the European Parliament's Socialist and Democrats group.

That was followed by a statement on Saturday (10 December) by a European Parliament spokesperson announcing Kaili's suspension.

"In the light of the ongoing judicial investigations by Belgian authorities, President Metsola has decided to suspend with immediate effect all powers, duties and tasks that were delegated to Eva Kaili in her capacity as Vice-President of the European Parliament," said the spokesperson.

She is one of 14 vice-presidents in the European Parliament and was handed the role, at the start of the year, to replace Metsola for missions throughout the Middle-East.

She was also tasked to replace Metsola for contacts with European business associations, as well as non-security multilateral bodies including the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation.

And she oversaw "corporate social responsibility," as well as the "European strategy and policy analysis system," among other roles.

Vote needed to unseat Kaili

Given she is an elected official, she still retains her role as vice-president, according to the EU parliament's rule book.

An early termination requires a vote on a proposal by the conference of presidents, a body composed of parliament's political leadership, before going to a plenary vote.

A Qatar government official qualified as "serious misinformation" any allegation of misconduct on the part of the State of Qatar, reported the AFP on Saturday.

But the police raids, arrests as well as past praises by the socialists on Qatar has cast a long shadow over those involved.

Belgian newspaper L'Echo reported that "several bags full of banknotes" had been found at Kaili's home in Brussels.

Qatar trip and socialist vote

Kaili had told EUobserver in late November that she had gone to Qatar on behalf of Metsola, and that she had also planned to visit Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman.

The comment came after the majority in the socialist group voted against a proposal that would require an EU parliament plenary debate and vote on Qatari human rights.

This included Belgian socialist Marc Tarabella, whose home was also raided by the Belgian police over the weekend, reports Le Soir newspaper. Tarabella denies any wrongdoing.

Others caught up in the Belgian police dragnet include a former parliamentary assistant to ex-socialist MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, as well as Luca Visentini.

Visentini was secretary general of the European Trade Union Confederation before becoming president of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

As an MEP, Pier Antonio Panzeri had chaired the European Parliament's sub-committee on human rights.

His wife and daughter have since been arrested over the affair at their family home in Calusco, reports Italian newspaper, Corriere Della Sera.

The current chair of the subcommittee is Belgian socialist Marie Arena. Her office office was also sealed by the police over the weekend.

Arena, Tarabella and Kailli voted against a proposal by the Left that demanded a plenary debate and resolution on human rights in Qatar.

Another plenary vote is set for Qatari visa liberalisation, following an April proposal by the European Commission.

The proposal is being pushed by European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas, who had met Qatari ministers on 20 November, a few days after meeting Kaili.

The socialists now want to put the proposal on hold. The lead MEP heading the file, German Green Erik Marquardt, also said he would vote against it.

Socialists opposed parliament taking Qatar rights stand

The socialists in the European Parliament are leading compromise talks on human rights in Qatar despite voting against putting the issue to a plenary vote. The move comes after the Left demanded that the European Parliament take a stand.

Investigation

MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

MEPs are using so-called 'friendship groups' to cater to foreign governments without oversight and little public scrutiny. Initially set up to promote cultural exchanges, some have become lobbying platforms to push state views from governments with poor human rights records.

Opinion

'Qatargate' is the tip of the iceberg

To those of us who have been working for years to cast a light on EU corruption, this latest scandal is not a shock, or even a surprise — it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Metsola pledges EU parliament reforms after bribe allegations

The plans include strengthening whistleblower protection, a ban on all unofficial parliamentary friendship groups (groups of MEPs discussing relations with non-EU countries), reviewing enforcement of code of conduct rules for MEPs, and new rules interactions with officials from non-EU countries.

Opinion

Europe is giving more aid to Ukraine than you think

'Europeans need to pull their weight in Ukraine. They should pony up more funds.' Such has been the chorus since the start of the war. The problem is the argument isn't borne out by the facts, at least not anymore.

Column

Democracy — is it in crisis or renaissance?

Countries that were once democratising are now moving in the other direction — think of Turkey, Myanmar, Hungary or Tunisia. On the other hand, in autocracies mass mobilisation rarely succeeds in changing political institutions. Think of Belarus, Iran or Algeria.

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us