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My statement on #Qatargate

At least one member of the European Parliament has allegedly been implicated in a corruption affair involving Qatar. The actions the member is accused of violate EU rules and destroy EU citizens’ trust in the institution. My statement as Head of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula:

“I am appalled by the allegations of fraud and corruption made against at least one member of the European Parliament (EP), who is also a member of the EP Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula. These allegations are simply inconceivable for a democratic institution such as the European Parliament.

I reiterate my strong condemnation of all attempts to influence the actions of the European Parliament’s bodies, including the EP Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula, by illegal means – whatever their origin.

While we must await the result of the ongoing judiciary investigation to establish the responsibilities of individual members of the European parliament, it is vital to already now draw up a few conclusions.

It is important that the European Parliament streamline its internal procedures and controls with a view to address any possible cases of corruption and external undue influence in the quickest possible way. Promoting a renewed culture of transparency inside the European Parliament, e.g. by enhancing the rules concerning the registration of lobbyists, is key.

There should be no room in the European Parliament for opaque or contestable practices

Contacts with third countries should also be reviewed. The so-called ‘friendship groups’ and other informal groupings of parliamentarians amplifying the interests of third countries must be strictly regulated, i.a. to prevent them from undermining the work of official bodies of the European Parliament. Further, trips or events of members financed by third countries, should be subject to strict controls, if not forbidden.

There should be no room in the European Parliament for opaque or contestable practices involving lobbies and pressure groups, irrespective of whether they are based inside or outside the European Union.

It is time to promote a genuine culture of transparency. Only transparency and full compliance with anti-corruption rules may prevent unscrupulous parties from attempting to unduly influence the work of our institution and thereby undermine the valuable work of the European Parliament on sensitive issues such as the respect and the promotion of human and social rights.

If the allegations prove to be true, trust has been broken and the diplomatic relations concerned by this will have to be revised. We should be clear that the European Parliament does not accept foreign interference unduly influencing its work. I therefore call for a revision of our bilateral relations with the concerned countries, based on mutual respect and understanding, but also on strict compliance with the basic rules of cooperation between the countries and their parliaments or consultative councils.

As far as the EP’s Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula is concerned, we are committed to multiplying our efforts to denounce all abusive practices in order to promote the EU’s values and principles in the world. It is essential that the EU and its parliament do not deviate from their institutional mission on behalf of all European citizens.”

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