Roberta Metola

The president of the European Parliament did not declare numerous gifts.

(Photo: IMAGO/Future Image)

Since the corruption scandal broke in the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola has presented herself as the lead investigator. Nothing will be swept under the rug, promised the president of the European Parliament. No one will go unpunished.

The bribery scandal has occupied parliament since December. Belgian investigators arrested several MEPs and employees of the European Parliament on suspicion of corruption and money laundering and seized 1.5 million euros in cash. The money is said to come from the Emirate of Qatar and Morocco.

Metsola then announced crackdowns and fundamental reform of lobbying rules. Now it turns out that Maltese politics apparently did not follow all the rules of parliament. Just last week, he subsequently declared more than 100 gifts and five sponsored trips from the past year.

According to “Politico”, this includes a trip to Burgundy last October, where she spent a weekend with her husband in a five-star hotel. She was invited by a wine company that wanted to bestow the honorary title of dame on Metsola. The European Parliament paid for the trip in the company car and the host paid for the stay, including the gala dinner.

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Such trips are generally permitted, but must be entered in the Parliamentary Register by the end of the following month. The same applies to gifts received. But very few parliamentarians adhere to it, also because the rules have not yet been verified.

She got books, statues, medals or bottles of wine

The fact that Metsola now only declares his trips and gifts under the impression of the scandal puts Parliament in a bad position again. Her defenders, on the other hand, argue that she is a role model with her transparency.

Green MP Daniel Freund, who considers the lobbying rules in Parliament too lax, praised the conservative politician: “As president, she must set a good example.”

Metsola’s spokesman denies breaking any rules because the reporting requirements for the speaker of parliament do not apply. By the way, he passed all the gifts to the administration for safekeeping for him. Gifts are, for example, books, statues, medals or bottles of wine that were given to you during visits.

>> Read also here: Bribery scandal: The best anti-corruption program is to stay away from oil and gas

Metsola recently presented a reform plan with 14 measures to make it more difficult to influence parliament. Among other things, MPs should not be allowed to lobby for two years after leaving parliament. They will also need to document all their meetings with third parties in connection with a report or legislative proposal. So-called friendship groups in parliament will also be banned. These are loose networks of individual parliamentarians with foreign governments.

Critics say the measures do not go far enough. For example, it is criticized that the representatives of interests from third countries continue not to appear in the transparency register. Until now, only representatives of companies and non-governmental organizations have to register there. Several MEPs are also calling for better protection for whistleblowers.

Four people are currently in Belgian custody due to the scandal. This is the former vice president of Parliament Eva Kaili and his partner Francesco Giorgi, the former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri and another NGO worker.

The prosecution is also investigating the two Social Democrat MEPs Andrea Cozzolino and Marc Tarabella. The procedure to lift the immunity of the two is currently underway.

More: Metsola presents reform proposals to the EU Parliament.

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