On December 11, 2022, Belgian authorities charged four individuals in connection with an investigation into corruption and influence peddling in the European Parliament. Among those arrested is European Parliament vice president Eva Kaili. She has been charged with corruption and money laundering offenses, as well as participation in a criminal organization. Kaili has been detained in Brussels. Investigators reportedly found hundreds of thousands of euros in cash when they searched her residence, and approximately € 1 million more in 18 additional premises.
According to press reports, those arrested were influenced by corrupt lobbying by Qatar. The European Parliament removed Kaili from her position as parliamentary vice president, and suspended work on legislation aimed at easing European entry restrictions for Qatari citizens. On December 13, the Parliament held a debate about the suspicions of corruption by Qatar and the broader need for greater transparency in European Union institutions. The Commissioner for Home Affairs announced that a new law will be proposed in 2023 that criminalizes all forms of corruption in all member states, and imposes strict penalties on those who violate the law. Other proposals included more robust enforcement of ethics rules, the establishment of an independent European Union ethics body, and the inclusion of non-EU countries in the lobbying registry. Following the debate, Parliament adopted a resolution expressing the members’ commitment to a system of asset declarations by MEPs, mandatory reporting of additional income sources, and a cooling off period following the end of an MEP’s mandate. In the resolution, the Parliament urged the European Commission to draft a proposal for the establishment of an independent ethics body along the lines proposed by Parliament in 2021.