Shock for the European moralizers: With the Kaili case, a shadow of bribery falls on the reputation of the EU Parliament. Otherwise it likes to play the role of moral teacher.
When it comes to moral issues, the European Parliament (EP) is not easily outbid by anyone in Brussels. Its declarations of solidarity for Ukraine, which is being held in a stranglehold by Russia, range from fiery to pathetic. It has long since declared the fight against climate change to be a question of the survival of civilization and the planet; and signs of corruption in Hungary are particularly hard to crack down on – right up to the obvious verdict that the Orban state is no longer a functioning democracy.
The louder members of parliament are all the more rudely thrown out of the clouds of moral superiority by the increasing suspicion that a socialist vice-president of their parliament, the Greek Eva Kaili, could have been for sale.
The head of the CDU/CSU group in the EP, Daniel Caspary, is “stunned”: “What is said to have happened in the environment of the social democratic group means huge image damage for the socialist group, but unfortunately also for the entire European Parliament.” His CDU colleague Dennis Radtke, the group’s social politician, fears a “huge loss of confidence in parliamentarians from all parties”.
Green MP Daniel Freund speaks of a “huge corruption scandal”. The anti-bribery expert demands that not only all MEPs should now disclose their meetings with representatives of third countries, but also the members of the European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen. Because against Kaili, who was arrested on Sunday and has since been suspended from her Greek Pasok party, the socialist EP group and the presidency of the European Parliament, there is apparently a solid suspicion that she has allowed Qatar to sell her political favors.
The FDP Vice President of Parliament Nicola Beer suspected “two faces” behind the telegenic facade of the previous colleague from Greece. In this Janus-faced twilight, after Kaili and other suspects, including her partner, had to answer questions from the Belgian investigative authorities, the then EP vice-president took a fiery partisanship with the desert state.
About Qatar, which had come under international criticism because of the working conditions of foreign workers in the construction of its soccer World Cup venues, Kaili twanged in November that the World Cup host was an Arab reform state with commendable labor laws. A little later, shortly after Nikolaus, sacks full of banknotes are said to have been found in the apartment of the 44-year-old career politician with a previous career as a TV presenter. The investigators apparently believe in a gift from Qatar. According to the public prosecutor’s office, a total of more than half a million euros was confiscated.
There is rumbling among the socialists and social democrats in the EP, whose group Kaili belonged to until she was ignominiously thrown out. The head of the German Social Democrats in Parliament, Jens Geier, tweeted “appalled”: “We as SPD Europe are working to strengthen democracy, but corruption is destroying it.” Bernd Lange, SPD chairman of the EP trade committee, lamented a fundamental blow on Deutschlandfunk against the European Parliament. All of the EU’s positions on Qatar must now be examined.
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The consequences of the scandal are so far unpredictable, not only for Qatar. Demands are now increasing in Parliament to suspend negotiations on visa facilitation for citizens of the Gulf State. According to Terry Reintke, co-chair of the Greens group, the EP itself has to face a moral dilemma: “Regarding the rule of law in Hungary, it must be absolutely clear that the European Parliament is not jeopardizing its credibility .”
The head of the German Greens in Brussels, Rasmus Andresen, expressed his dismay in the following words: “All MPs and employees who honestly fight for their convictions 70 to 80 hours a week suffer from the misconduct of their colleagues. I’m ashamed of my colleagues.”
The corruption crisis is pouring grist into the mills of the AfD and other Eurocritics. The AfD MEP Gunnar Beck explained: “The socialists always present themselves as moral teachers, while they are obviously susceptible to corruption.” He extended this accusation to other parties: “It is also conceivable that other groups in the EU Parliament will be affected are. For example, the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Greens recently voted in favor of visa easing for Qatar, while we, of course, opposed it.”
The events surrounding Kaili hit the EP shortly after it had commemorated 70 years of European parliamentarianism with an acclaimed version of the European anthem in an emotional celebration and celebrated itself as the only “directly elected, multilingual, transnational, multiparty parliament” in the world. A female vocal ensemble performed a standing applauded version of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in the Strasbourg plenary hall of the itinerant parliament, whose around 700 members commute between Brussels and Strasbourg for a lot of money against all reason.
As is well known, it says: “All people become brothers.” In the case of Kaili, the suspicion is raised that it could also mean: “Some sisters became accomplices.”
MEP Eva Kaili, who has been arrested on corruption charges, has been dismissed as Vice-President of the European Parliament. Parliament President Roberta Metsola revoked the 44-year-old “with immediate effect from all powers, duties and tasks” as her deputy.
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