The bribery scandal in the European Parliament, which reveals the cracks in a Chamber that had set itself up as the EU's moral authority, is forcing its leaders to react on the wrong foot.
The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and the leadership of the institution are working on a plan of 10 measures to combat corruption that proposes, for example, more protection mechanisms for those who report irregularities within the institution, a new "registry mandatory transparency" of all meetings with countries outside the EU or impose control of the contacts that MEPs have with pressure groups and organizations from countries outside the European Union, according to the proposal to which he has had access THE COUNTRY.
Some of the measures can be adopted unilaterally, from the presidency;
others will have to be discussed with the board or the conference of presidents.
There are also points that will have to be voted on and that, like the one that raises more control over the contacts of legislators, could collide with the opposition of some in the Eurochamber.
Metsola has promised this Friday that he will lead a series of reforms to improve the transparency of the Chamber, and the control mechanisms over the "friendship groups" of MEPs with countries outside the EU, who try to influence with invitations to travel or conferences and that, although they do not violate the rules of the European Parliament, they should be more under scrutiny, said Metsola.
“This is not prejudging anyone, but if there is a loophole, I want to close it.
I want to make sure that the official interlocutors with a country are the most veteran members of the corresponding commission", said the president of the European Parliament in Brussels, where the
scandal has hovered like a nebula over the last summit of heads of state and Government of the year
, as has become known the case that points to the former vice president of the European Parliament Eva Kaili (in preventive detention and pending declaration) and in which one of the defendants has implicated, in addition to Qatar, Morocco as another actor who could having infiltrated the Chamber, has shaken the community institutions.
They are trying to shake off suspicions that may not only harm Parliament, where the scandal comes from, but the entire European bubble and serve autocrats who seek to discredit the institutions and their values.
"I will lead this effort personally and with broad consultations inside and outside Parliament," Metsola promised, outlining some of the measures he is preparing.
It is necessary to "rebuild trust" in the body and send a "powerful" message to those who try to undermine it,
The presidency of the European Parliament has also requested a complete review of "what has been voted on and worked on," Metsola said.
“We are going to investigate everything.
We will investigate any undue pressure and any undue influence that we see occurring."
For example, Parliament voted in December in the Home Affairs Committee for a resolution on the elimination of visas for citizens coming from Qatar.
It should have been voted this week in the plenary session of the European Parliament, but it has been suspended after the arrests carried out by the Belgian police.
Within its proposal to reinforce anti-corruption rules, the leadership of Parliament proposes a new "mandatory transparency record" of all meetings with any third country by MEPs or assistants, and a new "penalty regime" to guarantee compliance.
Lobbyists and activists operating in Brussels should be registered in the institutions' registers of activities and interests, but this is not always the case.
Now, the new anti-corruption roadmap proposes prohibiting
lobbies from accessing any Eurochamber headquarters
or NGOs that are not in that registry;
something that already prevailed for the European Commission.
The plan also proposes to prohibit members of Parliament's staff from being part of an NGO that does not appear on the transparency register, according to the text of the measures.
The proposal that would toughen the rules on corruption and transparency of the staff of the European Parliament also seeks to put the magnifying glass on former members, revolving doors and their activities.
The plan proposes to bar former members from using their status to "lobby" for "any issue" or "any country."
"Sanctions will be established, including the deprivation of privileges as a condition of compliance," says the working draft of the roadmap, which is still in the institution's kitchen.
A measure that makes a lot of sense when observing that one of the defendants in the case and pointed out by some as the peak of the pyramid of the alleged plot, Pier Antonio Panzeri, is a former MEP who now led an NGO.
The plan will be presented in mid-January, according to parliamentary sources.
However, Metsola has outlined a couple of measures in a speech following one of his meetings with European leaders in Brussels.
The president of the Eurocámara has announced that she will propose that all official contacts with non-EU countries be made through the indicated parliamentary committee or through the presidency, a formula that will tighten control.
"This would imply a thorough review of the European Parliament's delegation system and its efficiency in the current reality, as well as the current practice of geographical designations granted to vice-presidents," the proposal document says.
The roadmap also proposes that any resolution on foreign affairs that is proposed in plenary session with an urgent procedure be voted on before in the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission.
These resolutions that now want to narrow the focus may be a more interesting and easier target for those who seek to influence.
Metsola has vowed to lead a "strong reform process", although he has acknowledged that there will always be people "for whom it is worth taking the risk for a bag of money".
“It is essential that these people understand that they will be caught.
That there will be consequences.
That our services work and that they will face the full weight of the law”, added the president of the European Parliament.
With the focus on “parallel income”
This Thursday, the European Parliament, where all the groups look inward and out of the corner of their eyes for fear of new suspects coming out, has requested in a resolution mechanisms to guarantee the "full transparency" of the "parallel income of MEPs".
Although their proposals are very timid for now: they ask for the requirement that all parliamentarians present a declaration of assets at the end of their terms, in addition to the one they already have to deliver at the beginning.
These subsequent declarations would be far from being public: they would be delivered to Parliament confidentially and only the relevant authorities would have access to them and only in the case of "substantiated allegations" about a specific MEP, to check if the declared assets match with declared income.
This "will offer additional safeguards against corruption" and would make spending illegal income "substantially more complicated," says the text, which was approved almost unanimously (541 votes in favor, two against, and three abstentions).
Parliament has also called for a proposal at the European level to ban donations from non-EU countries to Members of Parliament and political parties throughout the EU and will demand of themselves the veto of "all external financing of the staff of Members and groups”.
The deputies, who have approved prohibiting all access to the Chamber to representatives of Qatari interests for the moment, also ask that one of the vice-presidencies be designated to fight corruption and foreign interference and the creation of an investigation committee on "inappropriate" actions of countries outside the club that seek to influence the Eurochamber.
They also request the creation of a commission to identify possible "defects" in the framework of the institution's regulation on transparency, integrity and corruption.
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