Strengthen anti-corruption measures or watch the Union wither away

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
Strengthen anti-corruption measures or watch the Union wither away
Credit: Belga

The ongoing parliamentary scandal, with Socialist MEP Eva Kaili having abused her position and engaged in corruption for something as banal as making money, on-top of her comfortable salary and allowance as an MEP, has shown that we need a fundamental rethink of this vital institution of European democracy.

I don’t need to repeat the disgraces committed by our current and former representatives and their friends, lovers, and assistants, or at least in the spirit of “fairness”, what they have been accused of. I don’t need to evoke the shame placed over our continent as people engaged in petty acts for bags of money, undermining our very values, expectations, and, worst of all, trust.

This is because dwelling on these disgraces will not only compound the damage already being done by scandals across our continent and by political forces attacking us in their quest to destroy the Union. It will make our future battles harder, less hopeful, and make us feel weaker.

What we will look at instead is what we must do from here on out as a Union, what is essential for us as citizens of this Union to ensure it meets our expectations, and how we as citizens can affect political change that will prevent this in the future and make the erosion of European democracy as difficult as possible for those who wish to profit at its expense.

What surprises many who only see this on the surface level is the dark spots of our Union: a lack of transparency, a lack of agency within institutions locked in a straight jacket by family members who seek to undermine us, and what is coming to light now, the potential for corruption.

Whitewashing these problems as some do, including politicians, has always been a weakness within the Union, which is precisely why when these scandals and acts of corruption come to light, when it’s clear that someone has attacked our Union and attempted to weaken it, that is the time when we as citizens must push forward and fight for the Union that we want.

We must allow police forces from across Europe to do their work. Still, the necessity of action surrounds us and permeates the continent. There is a moral imperative to engage in this topic, come to terms with what has happened, say “never again”, and then take collective action.

Every single person reading this article should be writing to their MEP, MP, and local politicians to make their voices heard and make sure that they understand what is expected of them. Whether you’re engaged in politics or not, you are a European citizen with a right to be represented by these people, to have your values represented, to have your Union represented.

And our politicians have a duty to do so correctly.

The worst part of this scandal is that we know what we must do to prevent corruption. We know what we must do to fight corruption, and we know what we must do to stop it; but standards have slipped, jeopardising our union and weakening our collective whole.

This is why we need to stand up and make our voices heard by telling our MEPs, our political parties, and those who represent us in Brussels, Strasbourg, and across our continent that we need to renew our defences against corruption with the creation of a new institution tailor-made to fight this.

We European citizens must tell our leaders that the European Union needs to urgently develop an independent, influential, and effective anti-corruption institution that ensures the integrity of European democracy. We need an institution that will be able to fight the poison eroding our very values and undermining the already frail trust in our politics.

We need an institution that can work closely with the European Public Prosecutor's Office and Europol as an independent network of actors that can actively fight against corruption, preventing the feeding of eurosceptic actors who will pounce on every opportunity to strengthen their subversion.

We need an institution that will ensure that the European Parliament will meet the promises made to the citizens as part of the treaties, the social contract with the European citizenry, and as part of the tireless work that was started by our founding fathers and passed down from generation to generation with the hope that we will continue on their work and treat it with the dignity it deserves.

The only other alternative is to stand aside and watch as our Union is pillaged by those who would see it weakened, and ourselves allow it to wither away before our very eyes.

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.