European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, at a news conference in Brussels on 15 December, has vowed to lead a wide-ranging review of the legislative body’s rules on lobbying and its code of conduct.
(Photo credit: JOHN THYS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
A senior Qatari diplomat told the Financial Times on 18 December that the handling of a major corruption scandal unraveling inside the European Parliament could “negatively affect” ties between the EU and Qatar.
“The decision to impose such a discriminatory restriction that limits dialogue and co-operation on Qatar before the legal process has ended, will negatively affect regional and global security co-operation, as well as ongoing discussions around global energy poverty and security,” the unnamed diplomat was quoted as saying.
However, he went on to highlight that Doha is not “threatening to cut supplies or anything. We are simply saying [that] to stop communication in the EU parliament this way limits co-operation.”
Four people have so far been charged in Belgium after investigators uncovered about 1.5 million euros in their possession that were part of an influence peddling campaign by a Gulf state, which various media outlets later identified as Qatar.
In the wake of this scandal, last week, the European Parliament voted to suspend Qatari representatives’ access to the body. Members also paused legislative work related to Qatar, including a visa waiver for Qataris and Kuwaitis.
Doha has denied any involvement in the scandal, and has heavily criticized Brussels’ decision to suspend legislative work related to Qatar, but not Morocco.
According to reports, Moroccan interests also face scrutiny in the investigation.
The scandal has become a major headache for EU states, which now rely on Qatar for a large part of their liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies, making the Gulf monarchy vital to Europe’s plans for coping with the current energy crisis.
Overall imports of Qatari LNG represented just under 5 percent of EU gas imports so far this year, according to European Commission figures. But the importance of Qatar to Europe’s energy security is set to grow thanks to a mega-expansion of its LNG production capacity, with two major projects due to be completed in 2026 and 2027.