Metsola announces reform package following Qatar corruption allegations

President Roberta Metsola says European Parliament must send a ‘powerful message’ to external actors who try to undermine it

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola has announced a reform package, in light of allegations of bribery by Qatar.

“Criminal proceedings are damaging, for democracy, for Europe and everything we stand for and trust that has taken years to build and moments to destroy will need to be rebuilt, and the work starts now,” the president said.

Four people have been charged in connection with an anti-corruption investigation into the European Parliament.

European Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili and three others were charged and imprisoned on Sunday in Belgium, amid a police probe into alleged corruption linked with Qatar.

Five were arrested last Friday after 16 searches into suspicions of substantial payments by the Gulf state in order to influence MEP’s decisions. The arrests were carried out in Brussels.

Metsola, who was present during Kaili’s arrest, in line with Belgian law, said a wide-ranging reform package will be ready by the new year.

“We need to send a powerful message to those external actors who try to undermine us,” she said.

The reform package will see the strengthening of parliamentary procedure, a ban on unofficial relations with certain groups, a review of conduct rules, and an in-depth analysis of how parliamentarians interact with third-countries.

She said the parliament needs to improve competitiveness and return to growth, by sticking to democratic values and sticking to the climate agenda. “Now is not the time for a trade war with our allies.”

Fielding questions from the media, Metsola skirted around questioning on whether police informed the parliament of the allegations, or if authorities were acting on a tip-off.

“I received information on the allegations on the morning of 9 December. We do not have a European FBI, but what I can say is that we did what we were instructed to do, and acted when asked to act. We did what was required from us,” Metsola said.

No World Cup for the European Parliament President

Metsola was also asked whether she had received invitations to attend the World Cup tournament which is being held in Qatar.

“I refused to go to the World Cup, because I have reservations on how that country is led. I received a number of invitations to attend the World Cup, and an open request to address that parliament, which I turned down,” she said.