Qatar corruption scandal: Belgian authorities ask EP to waive immunity of two MEPs

Qatar corruption scandal: Belgian authorities ask EP to waive immunity of two MEPs
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola. Credit: Belga/Benoit Doppagne

On Monday, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola launched an urgent procedure to waive the immunity of two MEPs in connection to the recently-uncovered "Qatargate" corruption scandal, following a request from the Belgian judicial authorities.

While Metsola's office did not name the two, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that it concerns Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella and Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino. Both are social democrats (S&D) and have already been named in connection with Qatargate.

Metsola will announce the request for lifting immunity in plenary as soon as possible, on 16 January, after which the request will be transmitted to the parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), which must then appoint a rapporteur to study the files and submit them to the committee.

It may also hear both MEPs, after which the committee must submit to the full EP a proposal on whether or not to waive their immunity, the press release stated.

"From the very first moment, the European Parliament has done everything in its power to assist in investigations and we will continue to make sure that there will be no impunity," Metsola said in a press release. "Those responsible will find this Parliament on the side of the law. Corruption cannot pay off, and we will do everything to fight it."

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Parliament will then vote on the lifting of immunity by a simple majority. If approved, the president will immediately transmit that decision to the MEPs concerned and the competent national authorities, in this case, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office.

Additionally, Metsola asked all departments concerned to give priority to the Taraballa and Cozzolino proceedings so they can be completed by 13 February.

She will also set out her intentions for reforms in the coming weeks, including an overhaul of the current rules and improving internal systems, including on enforcement.

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