After corruption scandal: EU parliament votes on Kaili’s successor

After corruption scandal: EU parliament votes on Kaili’s successor

Status: 01/18/2023 03:26

After the corruption scandal surrounding former Vice President Kaili, the EU Parliament elects a successor. Meanwhile, the debate over lobby control continues. Reform ideas abound, but some parliamentarians see no need for them.

By Stephan Ueberbach, ARD studio Brussels, now Strasbourg

The European Parliament draws further conclusions from the corruption scandal known as “Qatargate”. It is likely that at midday the Luxembourgish Social Democrat Marc Angel will be elected to succeed former Vice President Eva Kaili, considered one of the key figures in this case and who has been detained since the end of last year.

Stephen Uberbach

SWR Logo Stephan Ueberbach ARD Studio Brussels

Furthermore, the debate on possible and necessary anti-corruption reforms is in full swing. Because in Parliament, anger over alleged bribery attempts from abroad is still high. “Illegal and unacceptable behavior by individuals destroyed a lot of trust and therefore harmed everyone”, says Slovak Christian Democrat Vladimir Belcik, but at the same time he is convinced that “the European Parliament can deal with the problems that a few bad apples have caused.”

Other MPs also see the case as an opportunity to ensure tighter lobbying rules and more transparency. For example, Dutch Social Democrat Lara Wolters: “There is also a silver lining in these dark clouds, because now we can really take a big step towards an open and trustworthy parliament.”

Lots of ideas for renovations

There are already enough ideas. For example, that parliamentarians must disclose all meetings with third parties. Or that representatives from countries outside the EU have To if they want to get in touch with parliamentarians. After all, the reasoning goes, countries are also “lobbies” that have their own interests. The Greens also demand a special commission to investigate the scandal and come up with proposals for reform. “Because we love this house and want to protect it, we have to do everything we can, and now,” said Green Party leader Terry Reintke.

However, not all MEPs see far-reaching reforms as necessary. CSU’s European policy, Angelika Niebler, says she doesn’t know of any parliament as transparent as the European one. That’s why there isn’t much to do. New rules would not have prevented the current scandal either. According to the chairman of the CDU/CSU group, Daniel Caspary, freely elected parliamentarians need freedom. For example, the opportunity to have confidential conversations. If parliamentarians had to publicize all meetings, they would no longer receive certain information.

Independent control requested

Green anti-corruption expert Daniel Freund sees things differently: “We discussed sweeping reforms in December – and now the frontrunners are starting to say, ‘Oh, let’s not do this now, this is going too far.’ But we need disclosure of assets, we need disclosure of all meetings with lobbyists, finally we need effective protection for whistleblowers and, above all, we need independent control of the rules.”

EU Home Commissioner Ylva Johansson wants to propose a European anti-corruption law soon. With uniform penalties across the EU and a common definition of what constitutes corruption. She is also convinced that the European Union can solve today’s problems. The EU has dealt with Covid, is in the process of dealing with war, and of course it can also deal with corruption and “root it out wherever you find it”.

Qatargate: EU Parliament discusses consequences, elects Kaili successor

Stephan Ueberbach, ARD Brussels, now Strasbourg, 17.1.2023 23:58