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The president of the European parliament has vowed to “clamp down on everything” in response to a scandal involving allegations Qatar paid money to influence lawmakers.
Roberta Metsola said that rules on informal groupings and funding needed to be overhauled to ensure that the chamber was “not for sale”.
“There are . . . too many informal groupings that are potentially more amenable to influence. Too many organisations whose transparency of funding is not clear. We will clamp down on everything and we will make sure . . . that everything is in place that parliament is not for sale,” she said on Thursday.
Metsola said the scandal, which has seen Belgian police raid politicians’ homes and seize more than €1mn in cash, was “a blow to democracy and a blow to everything we have worked on for many, many years. It takes years to build trust but just a moment to bring them down.”
Three of the four suspects arrested, including Eva Kaili, who was vice-president of the parliament before the scandal broke, remain in custody, while a fourth has been released with an electronic tag, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said on Wednesday.
“There will be no impunity, there will be no sweeping under the carpet, there will be no business as usual,” Metsola added. “I will do everything I can, together with my colleagues, in order to restore the position of the house of democracy . . . That is clean, that is transparent, and that is not for sale to foreign actors that seek to undermine us.”