Part II: Everything You Need To Know About The Qatar Corruption Scandal Rocking The European Parliament
Continued from Part I (You can read here.)
The individuals involved are suspected of having received significant amounts of money and gifts from Qatar, which allegedly sought to influence decisions of the European Parliament.
Most of them have made positive statements about the emirate, while many observers criticise it for multiple human rights violations and inadequate working conditions on World Cup construction sites.
Eva Kaili was part of the delegation responsible for developing the European Union's relations with the Arab peninsula. In this capacity, she visited Qatar shortly before the World Cup.
Eva Kaili then praised the emirate's labor reforms in the presence of the Qatari Minister of Labor. "Qatar is a leader in labor law," she said during the visit.
"Today, the Qatar World Cup is concrete proof of how sports diplomacy can lead to a historic transformation of a country whose reforms have inspired the Arab world," she said at the European Parliament on 22 November.
"Europeans have no moral right to lecture them," she added, surprising many lawmakers. On 1 December, she attended the vote of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on the text concerning the liberalisation of visas between Qatar and the European Union.
According to a witness, she voted in favor of the text even though she was not a member of the committee and had not announced her presence, a prerequisite for voting in a committee.
As President of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the Parliament between January 2017 and July 2019, Pier Antonio Panzeri welcomed the fact that, when Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Qatar, the emirate was strengthening its ties with the European Union.
In April 2019, he declared in Doha, at a conference on impunity, of which the Gulf Times reported, that Qatar could now be considered "a reference in terms of human rights".
Marc Tarabella was one of the first political figures to express regret over the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. He denounced, in particular, the working conditions of foreign workers and the suspicions of corruption.
On 9 December 2014, in an interview with Le Monde, Marc Tarabella argued that the organisation of the World Cup should be withdrawn from Qatar, before doing a 180 and expressing outrage at a "ridiculous and hypocritical Qatar bashing".
In October, when asked by L'Avenir Huy-Waremme, he said: "In a few years, Qatar has made enormous progress in terms of labor and human rights, largely induced by the World Cup."
Lucas Visentini considered that Qatar must "be considered a success", although "there is still work to be done".
"The World Cup has without a doubt been an opportunity to accelerate change and these reforms can be a good example to follow for all other countries that will host major sporting events in the future," he added.
The Qatari Ministry of Labor has compiled a list of positive comments about the reforms in the emirate, including several of these actors.
What consequences for the European Parliament?
On the subject of Qatar, MEPs were due to approve on Monday the opening of negotiations between the European Parliament and the EU member states, in order to finalise a text that provides for the exemption of visas for Qatari and Kuwaiti citizens traveling to the European bloc for a maximum of 90 days, subject to a reciprocal agreement.
The subject was removed from the agenda. The S&D group also called for the "suspension of work on all files and votes concerning the Gulf states".
Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, has promised to launch "a reform process to see who has access to our premises, how these organizations, NGOs and individuals are funded, what links they have with third countries."
"We will ask for more transparency on meetings with foreign actors and those related to them," he said.
Transparency International, on the other hand, urges European institutions to "take urgent measures to carry out a thorough reform of their ethics and integrity systems”.
They say that “while this may be the most blatant case of alleged corruption that the European Parliament has seen in many years, it is not an isolated incident."
"For several decades, Parliament has allowed a culture of impunity to develop, combining lax financial rules and controls and a complete absence of independent (or non-existent) ethical oversight”.
Also Read: Part I: Everything You Need To Know About The Qatar Corruption Scandal Rocking The European Parliament
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