Vice-President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili, who was arrested on corruption charges, is still coming under pressure. In her native Greece, the anti-money laundering authority froze all of the 44-year-old's assets on Monday.
At the same time, talks in Strasbourg about her dismissal as Vice President were pushed ahead. Kaili is suspected of taking money to influence political decisions for World Cup host country Qatar. She had already relieved Parliament Speaker Roberta Metsola of her duties as Vice President.
Baerbock: Clarify the incident without "ifs and buts".
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke of an "incredible incident" in Brussels on Monday. "He must now be cleared up with no ifs or buts and with the full force of the law."
The leadership of the Social Democrats, of which Kaili was a member of Parliament, had already announced that the former TV presenter would have to be replaced as Vice President. The so-called Conference of Presidents, in which Metsola and the chairmen of the parliamentary groups sit, must first decide on such a request. The plenary session of Parliament must then agree with a two-thirds majority.
Parliament meets in Strasbourg
Parliament met in Strasbourg on Monday for its last plenary week of the year. Metsola was expected to comment on the recent revelations at the start of the early evening meeting. An informal meeting of the Conference of Presidents was already scheduled for Monday afternoon, with a formal meeting to follow this Tuesday, according to parliamentary circles. Kaili could then be dropped later this week. The Social Democrats have already suspended their membership of the parliamentary group.
Kaili is one of six suspects arrested by Belgian authorities since Friday in the corruption scandal. Four of them were taken into custody on Sunday - including Kaili herself and her boyfriend, according to information from the German Press Agency and other media.
As the Greek media unanimously reported on Monday, the head of the national anti-money laundering agency, Charalambos Vourliotis, had Kaili's assets frozen because of the investigation. The same applies to her parents, her sister and her partner, who was also arrested. Accounts, real estate holdings, company investments and similar assets would be examined.
The public prosecutor accuses Kaili and the other suspects of having influenced decisions in the European Parliament in favor of the Gulf Emirate of Qatar. In return, they are said to have received consideration such as large sums of money or gifts in kind. At the EU level, for example, consideration is currently being given to easing the visa rules for Qatari citizens.
Kaili voted on Qatar issue
In the EU Parliament, the Green MP Erik Marquardt is responsible for the topic. He told the dpa on Monday that Kaili had recently sought contact with him on the matter. It was important to her that the decision was made quickly and that not so many conditions were placed on Qatar. Kaili herself is not a member of the responsible interior committee - but voted on the topic on December 1st.
According to statements by group colleagues, this was not coordinated with the group. Because Kaili is a deputy member of the parliamentary delegation for the Arabian Peninsula, Marquardt said he wasn't surprised at her interest.
He wants the committee position on visa liberalization to be revised again. At best, the issue should be referred back to the committee, said Marquardt.
For his parliamentary group leader, Terry Reintke, it is crucial that Parliament now reacts to the scandal as one. "The damage was done to the entire European Parliament, so the democratic, pro-European part of Parliament must react with great clarity," Reintke told the dpa in Brussels on Monday. The details still have to be agreed with the other groups, but in their opinion a committee of inquiry would be important.