The President of the European Parliament appears in the wake of the EU bribery scandal

Metsola says plans by those trying to influence MEPs "have failed"

AP/OLIVIER MATTHYS - European Parliament President Roberta Metsola during a press conference

The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, said on Monday that the plans of those who tried to interfere in the European Parliament's processes "have failed" and announced a raft of measures to improve transparency and investigate the full extent of the scandal over alleged bribes from Qatar in the European Parliament.  

"The enemies of democracy, for whom the existence of this Parliament is a threat, will stop at nothing. Their malicious plans have failed. Our services, of which I am extremely proud, have worked with the relevant Belgian authorities to uncover this alleged criminal network," Metsola said at the start of this week's plenary session in Strasbourg.

Eva Kaili

She said she was determined that the institution would "emerge stronger" from the scandal and promised, in addition to an internal investigation, a reform of access to Parliament's premises for lobbyists and the protection of whistleblowers.   

Metsola said that Parliament had acted together with the Belgian authorities to ensure that all necessary documentation and computer equipment is preserved, that offices can be cordoned off as necessary and that house searches can be carried out.

Eva Kaili

"There will be no impunity. Those responsible will find this Parliament on the side of the law. Nothing will be swept under the carpet: we will launch an internal investigation to review all the facts relating to Parliament and see how best to secure our systems," Metsola said.

The announced reform, he promised, will address "who has access to our facilities", how the organisations that have access are funded and their links to third countries and improved transparency with "foreign actors", as well as strengthened guarantees of protection for whistleblowers. 

Parlamento Europeo

"There will always be someone who is worth taking a risk for a bag of money. It is essential that these people understand that they will be caught, that our services work and that they will face the full force of the law, as has happened in this case", said Metsola, who stressed that this is not a case of "left or right, north or south" and asked "not to exploit this moment for political reasons".  

The European Parliament also decided, in parallel, to refer the decision that was to be taken this week on negotiations to exempt Qatari citizens from a visa requirement for short visits to the Schengen area to a parliamentary committee.  

Metsola, who described last weekend as "one of the longest" of his career, assured that "if you do not perceive my anger and rage" it is "not to jeopardise the ongoing investigations or undermine the presumption of innocence" of those charged and involved in the case.