Six months after a group of European Union lawmakers was swept up in a cash-for-influence scandal, no new anti-corruption rules are in place at the European Parliament and the ones that do exist are not being enforced anyway, anti-corruption officials and parliamentarians said Tuesday, according to AP News.
The criticism came as the European Parliament offices of two lawmakers implicated in the scandal dubbed Qatargate were searched again on Tuesday. Belgian federal prosecutors confirmed the searches to The Associated Press but declined to provide details.
“In December last year the Parliament promised root-and-branch reform to prevent a recurrence of Qatargate. Instead, we’ve seen nothing but dither and delay and attempts to blame others for what happened,” said Michiel van Hulten, from the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.
The scandal came to light on Dec. 9 after police launched more than 20 raids, mostly in Belgium but also in Italy. Hundreds of thousands of euros were found at a home and in a suitcase at a hotel in Brussels. Mobile phones and computer equipment and data were seized.
A former vice-president of the assembly, Eva Kaili, was removed from her post after she was taken into custody on charges of corruption, money laundering and membership in a criminal organization. Her partner, a parliamentary advisor, was also charged.
Two other lawmakers and a former legislator were also caught up in the scandal, in which Qatari and Moroccan officials are alleged to have paid bribes to influence decision-making at the EU parliament, the bloc’s only elected institution. Both countries have denied involvement.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola drew up a 14-point plan in response, vowing a massive overhaul of the rules to rebuild public trust.
The aim was to prevent former lawmakers from lobbying on behalf of businesses or governments soon after they leave office and make publicly available the names of current members who break assembly rules. Metsola also sought tougher checks on lawmakers’ financial disclosures.
But six months on, Transparency International said, “not a single measure has been taken that impacts sitting” members of the EU parliament (MEPs).
German Greens lawmaker Daniel Freund lamented the lack of enforcement. “No one ever gets sanctioned even if in the rules there are actually sanctions foreseen,” he said. Some lawmakers apparently felt that taking cash might be acceptable, he added.
Metsola is expected to announce on Monday that more progress has been made.
Several EU lawmakers and officials have said that the corruption allegations are the most damning to have hit the parliament. The prime target has been the centre-left group, the Socialists and Democrats. Three of its lawmakers and an adviser are currently suspended.