Saturday

3rd Dec 2022

MEPs push for EU aid to Palestine inquiry

One quarter of MEPs have called for an official inquiry into allegations that 10 million euro monthly payments from the EU to the Palestinian Authority are being used to fund terrorist activities.

The request will be considered by Parliament President Pat Cox and the political group leaders on Tuesday before being put to the vote by the Parliament as a whole.

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

The issue has split the House, with some MEPs fearing that such an inquiry might harm the European Commission, in particular External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. Some MEPs have instead proposed to launch a joint working group, made up of MEPs from the Budget, Budgetary Control and Foreign Affairs Committees. This idea is also being supported by Chris Patten himself.

Change of mind

Although previously in favour of an inquiry, German Conservative MEP Armin Laschet said his views had changed after an exchange of letters with Chris Patten over the last few months, where the Commissioner provided "detailed and clearer" answers than anything that the Commission has put forward before. He added that the written answer from the Commission "is a good basis for close co-operation between the European Parliament and the Commission on further control of the monthly budget aid going to the Palestinian Authority."

In a letter to his colleagues, Armin Laschet however also opposed the continuation of direct budgetary assistance. "Despite my decision against a committee of inquiry we should continue to oppose any further direct budgetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority and ask the Commission to focus on bilateral co-operation on EU-funded projects instead." This proposal has been opposed by some Social Democrats and Greens in the European Parliament.

Working group a pale substitute

UK Conservative MEP Charles Tannock, who favours an inquiry, described the working group proposed by Mr Laschet as a "pale substitute". Speaking to EUobserver, Charles Tannock said that this working group does not have enough resources. "We will still be campaigning for a full inquiry," he said.

Leftist German MEP Ilka Schröder, another strong advocate of the inquiry said, "anyone who is willing to investigate is fine. But the point is that the working group has no power, no resources and no competencies, as it is not in the rules of procedure. It’s good that it would be investigating, but it alone is not enough. It’s something completely different," she said.

Patten against committee of inquiry

The External relations Commissioner Chris Patten is strongly opposed this type of inquiry, leading some MEPs to suppose that the Commission might have something to hide on this matter.

"It would not be appropriate to cast doubt on our actions in the Middle East at a moment when the EU together with the Quartet [EU, US, UN, Russia] have become the main actors able to broker peace in the region, in particular thanks to its actions and aid packages delivered during the last years...To date [there is] no evidence to support claims that EU monies are being used to fund terrorism," Commissioner Patten said in response to a letter from Mr Laschet.

"Once the Israeli authorities will resume the transfer payments on a stable and regular basis, the EU will seek to return gradually to more targeted forms of financial assistance," the Commissioner added.

Palestinian funds inquiry may damage Commission

A number of Members of the European Parliament are trying to get enough support in order to launch an inquiry into allegations that EU funds going to the Palestinian Authority are being used to support terrorist activities. The Commission is opposing this inquiry, leading some MEPs to suppose that the Commission has something to hide. Others, however, believe that launching an inquiry would not be the best way to go, as it risks damaging the Commission, particularly External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

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.

No top EU officials going to Qatar World Cup

None of the four top EU officials are going to the Qatar World Cup amid a stink on human rights, but some are more brave than others in criticising the gas-rich emirate.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

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. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us