EUROPE
Kaili removed as EU Parliament VP following corruption scandal

In an almost unanimous vote, EU lawmakers removed Eva Kaili as vice president of the European Parliament on Tuesday (13 December), following the so-called Qatargate, one of the biggest corruption scandals in the EU’s history.

Altogether 625 MEPs voted in favour, one was against and two abstained at the plenary session in Strasbourg.

Belgian police are continuing to investigate allegations that figures working on behalf of Qatar, the Emirati state and World Cup host, have paid European politicians huge bribes to influence the Brussels policy debate.

On Friday, Greek MEP Eva Kaili, her partner Francesco Giorgi, and ex-MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, president of the NGO Fight Against Impunity, were arrested by the Belgian police on suspicion of corruption.

“Bags of cash” were found at Kaili’s place of residence, according to Belgian investigators.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola suspended Kaili’s vice-presidential duties on Saturday, but the formal removal from her role was decided with the EU lawmakers’ vote.

On Tuesday, through her lawyer, Kaili refuted all allegations and said she had done nothing wrong.

The European Parliament will hold a debate on the allegations at 16:30 on Tuesday. On Thursday, the Parliament will vote on a resolution determining its official position.

Almost all political groups sharply reacted against the events.

“The S&D [Socialists and Democrats) Group has zero tolerance for corruption. We support a thorough investigation and full disclosure. We will fully cooperate with all investigating authorities,” the S&D group said in a press release on Monday.

Similarly, European People’s Party (EPP) President Manfred Weber said “Our colleagues at the European Parliament have been deeply shocked. These developments represent a heavy burden,” in a press conference on Tuesday.

Both the EPP and the S&D emphasised the damage to the whole European institution, while the Greens demanded an overhaul of ethics and accountability rules to root out corruption in the European Parliament.

Presently, the investigation involves members of the socialist group.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald/Zoran Radosavljevic]

Source: Euractiv.com

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