The European Parliament announced on Monday, Jan. 2, that it had initiated an urgent procedure, following a request from the Belgian judiciary to lift the immunity of two MEPs in the corruption investigation into alleged bribes offered by Qatar to European officials and civil servants, news agencies AFP and EFE reported.
The two MEPs are Italian Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian Marc Tarabella, both members of the European Social Democrats (S&D) group.
“Following a request from the Belgian judicial authorities, I have launched an urgent procedure for the waiver of immunity of two Members of the European Parliament. There will be no impunity. None,” promised European Parliament President Roberta Metsola on Twitter.
She called on “all services and committees to give priority to this procedure with a view to concluding it on 13 February,” when the European Parliament’s second plenary session starts this year.
The first plenary session will take place on January 16-19, but European bureaucratic mechanisms would not allow it to be completed at that time, hence Metsola’s deadline for the February session.
Several current and former EU officials and civil servants are charged in the case, which is linked to alleged money offered by Qatar and Morocco to promote a positive image of Qatar and influence EU institutions, including to allow visa-free travel for Qataris in the EU.
The most notable names accused in the case are Greek Socialist MEP Eva Kaili, who was sacked as European Parliament vice-president, and her life partner, Italian Francesco Giorgi, who is MEP Andrea Cozzolino’s assistant.
Kaili and Giorgi are currently in pre-trial detention in Belgium, as are former Italian Socialist MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri and Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, who heads an NGO.