European Parliament to re-examine 'historic' Qatar air agreement

European Parliament to re-examine 'historic' Qatar air agreement
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The European Parliament is considering not ratifying a "historic" air transport agreement between the EU and Qatar in light of the corruption scandal that has engulfed European politics over the last few days, Belga News Agency reports.

The agreement, signed in October 2021 but not yet formally approved by the European Parliament, provides Qatar Airways (the state-owned flagship carrier of the Gulf peninsula) with unrestricted access to Europe's airspace and aviation market.

In an internal email sent to fellow MEPs by Karima Delli, the Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism — which was involved during the deal's negotiation process — Delli suggests that the European Parliament should consider delaying ratification of the agreement until it is confirmed that no Committee members are implicated in the scandal.

"Given the recent developments, granting the consent to this agreement at this stage could be difficult until it is established that conditions were transparent and unbiased," Delli wrote in an email seen by Politico.

Delli added that the Transport Committee would seek to fully cooperate with the Parliament's internal investigations into MEPs' alleged corruption, and also noted that she shared European Parliament President Roberta Metsola's "desire to shed full light on the interference and corruption allegedly organised by Qatar within our institution".

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The EU-Qatar aviation agreement was hailed at its signing last year by Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Adina Vălean, who labelled it "a global benchmark for forward-looking aviation agreements" which "will bring new opportunities, more choice and higher standards for passengers, industry and aviation workers".

Thus far, more than €1.5 million in cash has been seized by investigative authorities in connection with the ongoing scandal, according to which the Qatari Government is believed to have made payments to senior EU officials in exchange for their support for pro-Qatari policies.

The probe has also led to six arrests and four individuals being criminally charged, including Greek European Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili.

Qatar has vigorously denied all allegations of corruption, claiming that they are "unfounded" and that the Gulf peninsula has always acted "in full compliance with international laws and regulations".

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