European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said MPs had been talking for years about an ethical overhaul of Parliament without doing anything amid a corruption probe that saw Vice President Eva Kaili suspended.
o Offaly native O’Reilly said Parliament’s ethical framework had not previously been improved because “obviously people don’t want it to be revised”.
Ms O’Reilly told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the EU Parliament has been talking about an ethical overhaul for years, but “you get a bit cynical when you hear that at a certain point these promises will be made again and they will make them could have pulled through, they didn’t”.
Ms O’Reilly said many of the “allegations and lawsuits” that took place in Monday’s corruption probe “needed to be given a spotlight” if promises had been made about independent ethics bodies for years, which had not been established.
“I know from my time as a political journalist that things only change if there are political advocates for them.
“Perhaps we will see real political champions emerge. Certainly there will be scandal and promises made, but we’ll see when much of the excitement dies down,” said Ms. O’Reilly.
Kaili, one of four suspects charged in an investigation into money laundering and corruption in parliament, has denied receiving money from Qatar, one of her lawyers said in Greece on Tuesday.
Kaili, one of 14 vice-presidents of parliament, was among four people arrested and charged in Belgium over the weekend on allegations that Qatar had showered them with cash and gifts to influence decision-making.
“Her position is that she is innocent, I can tell you that,” Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, a lawyer representing Kaili in Greece, told Open TV.
“It has nothing to do with Qatari funding, nothing – explicitly and unequivocally. That is their position,” said Dimitrakopoulos. He added that Kaili “didn’t have any commercial activity in her lifetime.”
Greece froze Kaili’s assets in the country on Monday. The European Parliament has suspended her from her post.
Qatar has denied any wrongdoing. On Monday, the European Parliament requested that Ms Kaili be sacked as Vice-President.
Belgian prosecutors searched 19 homes and parliament offices from Friday to Monday and confiscated computers, mobile phones and several hundred thousand euros from a suspect, an MEP’s home and a suitcase in a Brussels hotel room.
The four unnamed suspects are accused of “participation in a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption,” the public prosecutor said.
The scandal is particularly embarrassing for Parliament, which has seen itself as a moral compass in Brussels, issuing resolutions criticizing human rights abuses around the world and holding EU governments to account. Germany said it was endangering Europe’s credibility.
Some European diplomats told Reuters last month that pressure to maintain good relations with Qatar is mounting as the continent heads for a winter of energy shortages due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The European Parliament suspended Kaili from her duties on Saturday.
On Monday, as EU lawmakers met in Strasbourg, the chamber’s president, Roberta Metsola, said she would start a process to end her role as vice-president.
The Greek socialist PASOK party excludes them from their ranks.
Belgian prosecutors said they had suspected for more than four months that a Gulf state was trying to buy influence in Brussels.
The probe comes as World Cup host Qatar finds itself in the global spotlight amid criticism of its human rights record, including its treatment of migrant workers.
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called the incident “unbelievable” at a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels.
“This is about Europe’s credibility,” she told reporters.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the allegations as “extremely worrying” and highlighted a Commission proposal to create an independent ethics body for all EU institutions.
“It’s a question of people’s trust in our institutions,” she said.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/european-ombudsman-emily-oreilly-cynical-over-parliaments-will-for-ethics-oversight-amid-corruption-probe-42216163.html European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly ‘cynical’ about Parliament’s will to oversee ethics amid corruption probes