Reaction from Thomas Vermaerke, Director of Transparency International Belgium, to the EU Parliament


Date : 16/12/2022

Reaction from Thomas Vermaerke, Director of Transparency International Belgium, to the EU Parliament ‘Qatargate' scandal 

"Corruption attacks the very foundation of our democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law, undermining the credibility of public mandates and creating structures and processes aimed at the soliciting of bribes. Political corruption has extremely negative impacts on every aspect of society and contributes to governmental instability, eroding public trust in democratic institutions and ultimately poses the greatest threat to democracy and the rule of law.

The ongoing investigation, led by  Belgian authorities, has uncovered extremely worrying practices of corruption and bribery involving a Member of the European Parliament and a former MEP. A severe lack of transparency and ethical oversight has led to these shocking revelations. It still remains to be seen how far the rabbit hole goes as Belgian authorities, in collaboration with other European agencies, will continue their investigation. Some positive news has emerged. It took a huge scandal to persuade the European Parliament Members to adopt rapidly and almost unanimously a resolution on the suspicions of corruption by Qatar and the broader need for more transparency in the EU institutions. It should not have come to this, but at least the developments could lead to some significant changes going ahead.

Transparency International Belgium applauds the decision of the European Parliament which calls for the establishment of an independent ethics body and a dedicated committee of inquiry to investigate corruption and the influence of third countries in the European Parliament. We stress that these bodies need to be established without undue delay to further prevent corruption and undue interference in the European Parliament and beyond."