In what became known as ‘Qatargate‘, the European Parliament’s Vice President Eva Kaili and four others were arrested in December 2022, after police found €900,000 in alleged bribe cash stuffed in bags and suitcases.
Although all defendants and foreign countries allegedly involved deny any wrongdoing, the scandal has all the hallmarks of brazen corruption: handing over cash to politicians to buy their influence.
This raised painful questions. How could corruption of such scale happen at the heart of the EU?
In this cross-border analysis, as part of the MEP Misconduct Investigation initiated by Dutch outlet Follow the Money, journalists from The Journal, Noteworthy and over 20 other European outlets (representing a total of 22 member states) dug up as many skeletons-in-closets as possible to determine the level of integrity of the outgoing European Parliament.
We can now reveal that 25% of sitting MEPs have been involved in public controversy or have outright broken the law in their lifetimes.
Read our full investigation findings here
This investigation focused on instances when the integrity of a politician is at take and called into question. Other political failures and scandals, such as budget overruns or broken election promises, were not included.
A total of 253 blemishes – which previously hit headlines across the member states – were unearthed, entered into an extensive database and sorted into types of misbehaviour.
The types of misbehaviour we collected were: corruption (through bribery and favoritism); fraud and theft of resources; conflict of (private and public) interests through ‘gifts’ and through side-line activities; improper use of authority; misuse and manipulation of information; waste and abuse or organisational resources; inappropriate behaviour or indecent treatment (work-related); and misconduct in the private sphere.
This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.
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