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HomeCrimeThe... breaths of Qatar Gate

The… breaths of Qatar Gate

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The chairs of the European Parliament’s political groups will meet with President Roberta Metzola this afternoon to discuss and decide how and when to proceed with her proposals to tackle the risks of corruption and foreign influence in the wake of the Qatargate scandal . The aim is to reach a final, albeit informal, political agreement on what the 14 or 15 meters of the “first steps” package will be. 

The so-called Conference of Presidents – Parliament’s most powerful and least transparent body, which regularly meets in secret to decide on debates, HR moves and plenary agendas – will try to find a landing zone for a quick package of reforms to be implemented in the coming months. 

President Metsola has sent a revised draft of her 14-point plan, which she first drafted last month. After consulting all the other groups, there are a few changes, while the basic ideas remain: publish more meetings, ban informal friendship groups with foreign countries and ban former MEPs from lobbying Parliament for a certain period after their departure from office, although that period has shrunk from a possible two years to just six months now. 

“This is a futile act that buries most of the measures that were democratically passed by our Parliament in December,” said Manon Aubry, co-chair of the Left group. 

Where is my committee? Metsola is under pressure from the Left to offer more and from the Right to promise less. The Socialist group – which has so far been at the center of the scandal and wants to appear whiter than white – as well as the Left and the Greens have pressed Metsola to insist on a major vote by MEPs in December, especially on the creation of a brand new special committee to investigate Qatargate. That particular push seems to have stopped altogether now: Instead, the pre-existing committee on foreign involvement will be given a new mandate. A Parliament official said setting up a brand new committee would mean waiting 12 months for results – too long.  

Other new elements are ideas to launch an “immediate” awareness campaign about the rules MEPs and staff must follow, as well as implementing a kind of amnesty for a short period of time during which MEPs can submit all their late declarations for things like gifts or paid trips abroad without fear of penalty. There would also be a new warning system for minor violations of the rules. And in a move that would please the left side of the spectrum, there is now a clear decision in the document to bring Parliament in line with the EU directive. to protect whistleblowers.   

European People’s Party chief Manfred Weber will call for tighter control of NGOs – some of which are suspected “of being black boxes for influence peddling and dark finance”. But the new scrutiny is a sore point for many of these groups – and their Green and left-wing allies in Parliament – who have repeatedly emailed us to complain that they are the victims of a campaign against all NGOs. 

This is what the EPP will demand today: Parliament should deny access to all interest representatives who are not registered in the transparency register, be they lobbyists or NGOs. Organizations should only be allowed to join the register after “full pre-screening”, including their funding sources and ultimate beneficiaries.  

“All incoming and outgoing payments must be disclosed as part of the registration in the transparency register, including the transfer of funds from one NGO to another,” it states. The Playbook can understand why this might be inconvenient for some organizations – but is it really so unreasonable to ask self-proclaimed but unelected champions of the greater good who actually pays their bills? 

The EPP proposal also calls for an “NGO law” that “must systematically define NGOs” and ensure that “large NGOs registered in the EU Transparency Register should be treated in the same way as companies and meet the same reporting obligations’. 

And the president of the Renew Europe group, Stéphane Séjourné, is intensifying the pressure on the Parliament and the Commission to proceed with the promised creation of a general body of ethics. 

Cezjourney will today ask his colleagues at the Conference of Presidents for a plenary debate next week in Strasbourg on the creation of such an inter-institutional ethics body. 

In a sign that the right and far-right are wasting no time injecting oxygen into the scandal that has so far only affected socialist MEPs, the European Conservatives and Reformists and Identity and Democracy groups tried this week – but failed – to impose a special civil liberties committee (LIBE) hearing on Qatargate on Tuesday. 

The LIBE committee – chaired by Spanish socialist Juan Fernando López Aguilar – was where the vote to liberalize Qatar’s EU entry visas took place on December 1, just eight days before the Qatargate explosion. At that meeting, the Socialists & Democrats of Eva Kaili, Alessandra Moretti and Marc Tarabella appeared, despite the fact that they were not members or even substitute members of the committee. 

At the same time, the Pancheri secret depositions continue. Eva Kaili will learn something from them at her hearing before the pre-trial council on February 16. 

source: efsyn

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