Metsola launches procedure to waive immunity for two MEPs as Qatargate probe deepens

The European Parliament president launched the urgent procedure after receiving a request from the Belgian judicial authorities

President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola has launched an urgent procedure to waive immunity for two Members of the European Parliament, following a request from Belgian judicial authorities.

The two MEPs are Andrea Cozzolino and Marc Tarabella, according to Belgian news portal Le Soir.

“From the very first moment the European Parliament has done everything in its power to assist in investigations and we will continue to make sure that there will be no impunity,” Metsola said.

In a statement on Monday, the Office of the President said that the first procedural steps were taken on Monday. The President will announce the request in plenary on 16 January, after which the request will be referred to the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) for a proposal for a decision.

Metsola asked that all services and committees give this procedure priority with a view to conclude the process by 13 February. 

The request comes in the midst of Qatargate, a scandal of corruption and bribery in the heart of the European Parliament.

Former European Parliament vice president Eva Kaili was arrested and charged in December with corruption and money laundering linked to Qatar’s lobbying operation in Brussels. Investigators found €150,000 in cash during a search in her apartment. A further €600,000 was found in a suitcase carried by Kaili’s father as he was leaving a hotel in downtown Brussels.

The police probe also led to the arrest and imprisonment of former Italian socialist MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri and Kaili’s partner Francesco Giorgi.

The Brussels Times reported last month that Giorgi admitted to receiving bribes, but insisted that Kaili was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Instead, Giorgi implicated Panzeri, Cozzolino and Tarabella.