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Manon Aubry: “Qatargate must serve as a catalyst to transform European institutions”


Lhe “Qatargate” is certainly the most spectacular scandal in the history of the European Parliament. The arrest of a vice-president, the seizure of millions of euros and entire suitcases of banknotes, the manipulation of votes, parliamentary hearings and the infiltration of negotiations rival a scenario of House of Cards.

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But we are unfortunately not in front of a thrilling fiction. We are faced with the very real symptom of a chronic disease of the European institutions: the culture and systemic organization of impunity as well as the opacity that leaves the door wide open to all interference.

It is of course shocking that Qatar bought the silence of the European Union on the exploitation to death of thousands of workers. But this dark affair is only the tip of the iceberg of a vast system of corruption originally established by Morocco and probably involving Mauritania and protagonists from different political labels.

Beyond this sprawling scandal, the “Qatargate” reveals the deep flaws in the very integrity of the European institutions, from which both third-party States and private companies take advantage to parasitize the making of the law.


Take for example the problem of “revolving doors”. Lobbyists and companies recruit agents by the hundreds from the ranks of the European institutions without any real control. The Commission is now struggling to explain why it authorized ex-commissioner Avramopoulos to join the fake non-governmental organization Fight Impunity, where he was paid 60,000 euros. As for Parliament, here it is corrupted by one of its former deputies who was able to come and go without control and create a shady association without registering it in the transparency register.

Also read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers “The ‘Qatargate’ was made possible by the shortcomings of the current rules on transparency and ethics”

Opacity provides corruptors with the darkness they need to act. I experienced this during the negotiation of the World Cup resolution which I pulled off a few days before the scandal broke. Well out of sight, the socialist and right-wing deputies were able to refuse to recognize Qatar’s responsibility and question the thousands of deaths on the construction sites. This opacity is just as rampant at the Commission when Ursula von der Leyen refuses to publish her text messages of negotiations with the CEO of Pfizer. And it is even more the norm at the Council where the Member States make the law behind closed doors without having to assume even their vote on the texts discussed.

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