February 8, 2023

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Country investigation: 750,000 euros seized in Caylee and 17,000 in Panziri’s house – Europe

“I am angry and sorry. European democracy is under attack.” There will be a before and after in the history of the European Parliament and it will be dictated by Qatargate. The very harsh words with which President Roberta Metsola opened the plenary session in Strasbourg suggest that the investigation could pave the way for a profound reform in document transparency and in relations with the MEPs’ lobby. The plenary session opened as worrying updates were arriving from the Belgian prosecutor’s office. The new searches took place on Monday afternoon at the Eurochamber in Brussels, on the 15th floor of the building. The first hearing will take place on Wednesday for the four arrested – Eva Caili, Antonio Panzieri, Francesco Giorgi and Nicolo Vega Talamanca – instead. The shadow of scandal, for the time being from a purely political point of view, spilled over into the commission. Vice President Margaritis Schinas and her trip to the Gulf states between November 18 and 21 ended in the crossfire. A trip during which Schinas stressed the progress of Doha’s reforms, and at a restaurant in Abu Dhabi, he met Vice President Eva Kayley. Some MEPs asked for clarifications and Schinas’ name was also mentioned in the Strasbourg Chamber. The sources of the Greek delegation pointed out that “the mission was official on the occasion of the World Cup. Communications with Qatari officials were published and tweeted, and Schinas’s statements exactly reflect the reports of the International Labor Organization.” Explaining that the meeting with Kylie was “impromptu and unplanned”.

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Committee leaders, all weekend, tried to see clearly. “We check every detail in the Transparency Register, and we have very clear rules for all commissioners,” said Chair Ursula von der Leyen, speaking of Qatargate as “a very serious and very concerning issue.”

The European community in Brussels is still in shock. Più Europa leader Emma Bonino has resigned from the board of directors of the NGO Fight Impunity founded by Panzeri.

And the details of the investigation did not help. The police find €150,000 in Vice President Kylie’s home. Another 600,000 were found in the suitcase his father was carrying as he hurriedly left a hotel in Brussels’ European quarter. In total, they make about 750,000 Euros, in twenty and fifty Euro denominations. Given the seriousness of the allegations, Greece’s anti-money laundering authority froze the assets of the vice president, who will lose her office on Tuesday morning, unless unforeseen events occur. The Conference of Presidents in Strasbourg will activate Article 21 that resulted from the loss of office. Plenary agenda updated: There will be a resolution on Qatargate, which will be voted on on Thursday. The debate is scheduled for Tuesday instead. The investigation could sink the path of rapprochement between the EU and Qatar.

The legislative proposal on visa liberalization will be referred to the Commission. “The rules of the European Parliament must first be reviewed,” Eric Marquardt, text rapporteur of the Libby Commission, stressed. Where Kylie could have moved with a certain ease, attending the script vote despite not being on the panel and doing a convincing job. Representative Abeer Al-Sahlani told Swedish media that Kylie called her under the pretext of talking about Iran. “We will not sweep the dust under the rug. We will launch an internal investigation,” Metsola assured, promising to “shock” the Eurochamber. “We will launch a reform process to check who has access to our offices, how NGOs are funded, what relationships they have with other countries, and we will ask for more transparency,” he explained. “The European Parliament is a victim of the behavior of these people,” noted Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who has long led the Eurochamber. The before and after can also be in the relations between the parties. “Corruption is not from the left or the right, so don’t use this threat in such a narrow-minded way,” Metsola warned, sparking an uproar in the House of Representatives. But Qatargate is a major blow to the Socialists and shakes up the already weak axis with the European People’s Party in Ursula’s majority base.

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Cozzolino, PE Seals only in Giorgi’s office – Francesco Giorgi’s office is closed this evening at Eurochamber headquarters in Strasbourg. Dem MEP Andrea Cozzolino defines this. Francesco Giorgi is a parliamentary assistant to a member of the European Parliament of the Democratic Party, who is currently under arrest following accusations in the “Qatargate” case. No seal was affixed to the Pd MEP chamber in Strasbourg, Cozzolino points out again.