by William Nattrass
Monday, 12
December 2022
Analysis
13:00

How deep does the EU’s corruption scandal go?

Several arrests shed light on the shadowy role of NGOs in the bloc
by William Nattrass
European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili

A corruption scandal which hit the news over the weekend is proving deeply embarrassing for the EU. Not only does it beg the question of whether the bloc should first clean up its own backyard before punishing member states for their alleged inadequacies in tackling corruption; it also appears to reveal a dark underbelly of the political machinations underpinning the progressive Brussels consensus.  

Four people were charged by Belgian prosecutors on Sunday in an investigation into alleged bribery and corruption at the European Parliament. The scandal revolves around an influence-buying campaign by a Gulf state, reportedly Qatar. Police seized around €600,000 in cash in searches on Friday.


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European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili is among those charged with corruption; Belgian prosecutors said those charged are suspected of being “paid large sums of money or offered substantial gifts to influence Parliament’s decisions.” 

The allegations are bad enough by themselves, but the affair could cause lasting reputational damage to the EU because of the way that it pieces together elements of the Brussels political machinery — MEPs, lobbyists, and NGOs — in an apparent web of illegal activity. The other three people so far charged are reportedly Kaili’s partner, who founded an NGO called Fight Impunity, the current president of Fight Impunity, and an unnamed lobbyist. 

Fight Impunity profiles itself as an organisation with a mission to make “accountability” a “central pillar of the architecture of international justice.” Its members have, apparently, been somewhat less concerned about the accountability of their own organisation. Another NGO implicated in the investigation is No Peace Without Justice, which was founded by Emma Bonino, a doyenne of the Italian Left and staunch advocate of European federalism. Bonino is also an honorary member of the board of Fight Impunity. 

The precise nature of the alleged corruption network isn’t yet clear, but those implicated are mostly current and former members of the Socialists and Democrats European Parliament group, or of other Left-wing factions. As such, the investigation implies underhand relationships between NGOs and Left-leaning MEPs of a kind long warned about by the EU’s Right-wing rebel states. 

Government figures from Hungary and Poland insist that Brussels’s harsh stance towards their conservative agendas is facilitated by a network of supposedly independent NGOs actually working for progressive Left-wing political aims. EU rule of law reports in which NGOs are involved formed a core part of the procedures to withhold funds from those countries.  

Whatever the truth of such arguments, these countries may now claim proof that NGOs work hand in glove with Left-wing EU political forces to apparently nefarious ends. The EU’s embarrassment is completed by the fact that, in a matter of days, the bloc is due to decide on withholding billions of euros in funds from Hungary over corruption concerns. 

The true implications of the EU’s corruption scandal will depend on the details of the relationships between the specific NGOs and MEPs involved. But it has already given ammunition to those who believe there is something fishy about the position of NGOs in EU politics, while severely undermining the Union’s attempts to project moral purity in its dealings with member states.

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Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago

Rather enjoying this…

Matt M
Matt M
1 month ago

Couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 month ago

Life without parole, that is the justice required of corruption in government. To me a corrupt government official is worse than a murderer as they harm the State, and thus all the citizens, and all future Citizens, and make government untrustworthy and illegitimate.

2 years for every EU Citizen (X 500,000 = a million years each, a good Texas kind of sentence)

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

The most surprising thing about this story is that these people are getting caught and prosecuted at all, quite frankly. Brussels is a swamp and has been for decades. The Commission hasn’t got a clean set of annual accounts out since 1994 – not even after it created its own Court of Auditors to replace the commercial audit firms it had been using prior to that point.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 month ago

THIS WOULD NEVER, ever, EVER, happen in SCOTLAND.
Oh, hang on, hand picked, sponsored with State money, NGO’s being hand in glove (surgical type rubber glove, obviously) part’ of the State machinery, surely not……… errrrrrrrrrrrr !!!

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom Lewis
Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago

It doesn’t “beg the question”; it raises the question.
And, we hope all the “Remainers” in the U.K. are paying attention…

Last edited 1 month ago by Gerald gwarcuri
Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
1 month ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

They are not

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Four people charged and maybe more to follow.
Let’s hope we see similar action in the UK regarding the cronyism behind Covid related contracts and loans. Billions were lost as we know.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Entire Prisons need to be built for the thousands of criminals against humanity who ran the covid vaccines, lockdown, and money printing debt, and the rest of the corruption. Also all the Media and Social media who colluded, and Teachers Unions and NHS executives….For every student who lost education and thus a life time of earnings and happiness – for every doctor’s appoint missed meaning long term health problems, every business lost, pension wrecked, mortgage defaulted because rates, anyone damaged by inflation, mental health problems, depression, the millions not given early treatment which would have saved them suffering and saved their lives, anyone harmed – the ones responsible first need to be sued in civil court till everything they have is taken – as they destroyed others, and then criminal courts for many years behind bars.

Nuremberg Trials X 10. No ‘I just did what I was told’ excuse.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Err, you mean many of those who ensured we didn’t end up having the problems China currently has still grappling with severe Lockdowns and an under-immunised population?
Yes of course undoubted mistakes made and hopefully Public Inquiries will draw these out.
A counter-factual appraisal of what would have happened had we done pretty much nothing would of course be v helpful, but will unfortunately remain speculative. So your view will also remain an ‘opinion’. As will those who feel we got it about right. Unprovable either way.

Last edited 1 month ago by j watson
Nick Wade
Nick Wade
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Counter factuals do exist, in the form of Sweden, and assorted American states. Their outcomes were generally more favourable. In addition, countries with low vaccination rates have not suffered bad Covid outbreaks. Quite the reverse, in fact.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

I think you mean you mean many of those who tried, but failed, to ensure we followed China policy of ever increasingly severe Lockdowns

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

The only immuniser has been covid itself. No measure taken by any politician has had any positive effect on getting over covid. Also, if they just dropped lockdowns in China they would be just fine

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 month ago

What? Corrupt politicians!

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago

Difficult to believe, isn’t it.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 month ago

‘I’m shocked, shocked to hear that corruption is going on in there.’

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago

About as difficult as believing that dogs bark.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago

Where there are vast sums of public money to be spent corruption is inevitable and endemic.
The trouble is that the corruption is no always obvious or easy to prove. If public money is spent in a particularly area or on a particular project how do you know that part of that money is not washing back to those who make the decisions about how the money is spent.
You only have to look at the wealth accrued by, particularly, US or EU politicians who have only ever been on the public payroll to know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark/France/Greece…..

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
1 month ago

Corruption in all it’s forms when other peoples money is being used. In UK local government the brown envelopes may be infrequent but the prid pro quo is rampant. “Support my scheme and I will support yours”, whether this is planning or public investment.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago

Backhanders all the way down?

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
1 month ago

We should remember that Neil Kinnock tried to silence a whistleblower when he was vice president of the EU commission. The whistleblower claimed widespread fraud and dodgy accounting practices in the EU.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 month ago

Where there are politicians there is corruption. They’re all at it, all the time.
Whether it’s influence, titles, or just straight cash doesn’t matter. They can’t be trusted. They’re all rotten.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Yup. They are, after all, human beings

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

So the EU has a deep state. Whoever would have guessed?

Laurian
Laurian
1 month ago

And for some reason I think this is only the top of the iceberg.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
1 month ago

I’m more interested to know why Qatar would be bribing left wingers in the EU, could it be about gas supplies? And the lefties sudden about face regarding Russia and there fanatical support of fascist opponents who they now support?
Anyway, the govts done a good job of keeping this off our mainstream media. Maybe the Conservatives never did want to leave the EU after all.