The Greek Vice-President of the EU Parliament, Eva Kaili, who was arrested on suspicion of corruption, will lose all the powers, duties and tasks assigned to her in this function with immediate effect.
This was decided by Parliament President Roberta Metsola, as one of her spokeswomen announced. Only parliament itself can decide to remove Kaili from the post of vice-president.
The European Parliament is the focus of comprehensive corruption investigations by the Belgian judiciary. Kaili and four other suspects were arrested. The background is investigations into suspected bribery and corruption, money laundering and attempts to influence political decisions by the Emirate of Qatar, the host of the current World Cup. Parliament, which likes to see itself as a pioneer in the fight against corruption, is threatened with enormous damage to its image.
According to the responsible public prosecutor's office, Belgian investigators have been suspecting a Gulf state of wanting to influence the political and economic decisions of the European Union for months. According to information from the German Press Agency and other media, this is Qatar. There is talk of significant sums of money and gifts in kind to people who hold a political or strategic position in the parliament with more than 700 MPs.
On Friday, the public prosecutor's office then struck: Initially, there were 16 searches and four arrests. Kaili, one of 14 vice-presidents of parliament, was also arrested that evening. The former TV presenter has now become the face of the scandal. The 44-year-old was elected to parliament for the Pasok party, which, together with the SPD, belongs to the Social Democratic parliamentary group.
Large sum of cash confiscated
According to dpa information, her partner, who works as a political advisor in Parliament, is also among those arrested. According to the prosecutor, a former MEP was also arrested, as well as his wife and daughter, according to the Italian news agency Ansa. With the exception of Kaili, all suspects have Italian nationality During searches in Belgium, 600,000 euros in cash and mobile phones were seized.
Qatar and bribery - was there something? The organizer of the current soccer World Cup has been criticized for years because of the human rights situation and the conditions for foreign workers. Numerous members of the then FIFA Executive Committee, which awarded the World Cup to Qatar in 2010, have now been convicted of corruption. However, Qatar itself has always denied allegations of bribery.
The European Parliament also criticized the World Cup award to the desert state just two weeks ago and referred to "credible allegations of bribery and corruption". Vice-parliamentary Kaili expressed himself differently at the time. Before Parliament, she described Qatar as a pioneer in labor rights. The World Cup is proof that "sports diplomacy can bring about historic change in a country whose reforms have inspired the Arab world".
Faction excludes Kaili for the time being
After her arrest, the Greek is under massive pressure to give up her position as Vice President. "Of course she can no longer represent Parliament," said SPD MEP Jens Geier of the dpa. The German Vice President of Parliament, Nicola Beer, also expressed the hope that Kaili would vacate her post. If the suspicion is confirmed, she should also give up her seat in parliament.
The Socialist Group in the European Parliament suspended Kaili's membership. Her Greek party Pasok excluded her. Resignation or not - the damage to the European Parliament is already there. CDU MP Dennis Radtke found that the greed of individuals damaged the reputation of Parliament. Beer told the dpa that Kaili had shaken confidence in the European Parliament.
Return carriage from Hungary
The malice at the investigations uncovered by the newspaper "Le Soir" and the magazine "Knack" was not long in coming. Hungary's government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs wrote on Twitter that he was looking forward to the tweets from MEPs, who regularly took a clear stance against corruption. "But they had nothing to say about the major corruption investigation in which MEPs are involved (...). Zero." The European Parliament repeatedly urges consistent action against Hungary because of allegations of corruption.
In fact, a number of MEPs spoke out. The SPD politician Katarina Barley wrote that "the news about the Qatar affair and Eva Kaili" made her angry. Corruption is a serious offense against democracy. Parliament Speaker Roberta Metsola clarified the House's position: "Our Parliament is resolutely opposed to corruption." At the same time, she promised the investigators unlimited support.
Whether the allegations will be substantiated remains to be seen. This Sunday, the Belgian judiciary wants to decide whether the five remain in prison.