N. Peter Kramer ’s Weekly Column
The European Parliament has often come under fire, but this time it is facing the biggest crisis in its 70 years of existence.
On December 12 afternoon, EP President Roberta Metsola stood bewildered in the plenary in Strasbourg. ‘The European Parliament, dear colleagues, is under attack’, she said. European democracy is under attack. And our way of open, free, democratic societies is under attack’. Metsola’ s spin was clear: a by her unnamed Gulf state (Qatar, everyone knew in the room!) would like to erode European democracy. Well, the EP is indeed under attack, but mainly by its own members.
At least four MEPs, a former MEP and a number of assistants are suspected of accepting large sums of money from Qatar. These MEPs had to play down human rights violations in the World Cup host country Qatar and to argue for a more flexible visa policy for that country. It will not have anyone’s attention that the suspects are from Greece, Italy and a francophone Belgian with Italian roots. And that they are all members of or associated with the EP socialist group S&D. The biggest name in the corruption scandal is a former Greek tv-star, Eva Kaili, MEP for the Greek party PASOK and a member of the S&D group. She is also one of the 14 EP Vice-Presidents (in the meantime removed from this function!).
The European Parliament, and certainly the socialist group, like to play the role of the guardian of a better world and to regularly wave its moral finger. This corruption scandal shows once again the hypocrisy reigning in this institution. It leaves a deep wound in the European socialist group and also in the European Parliament.