An overwhelming majority of MEPs on Tuesday voted to oust Eva Kaili as the body’s vice-president. The motion to end her term early was supported by 625 MPs, while one voted against and two abstained.
A two-thirds majority was required for her to cease being one of the panel’s 14 vice presidents.
Who is Eva Kaili?
The 44-year-old Greek social democrat was arrested in Belgium on Friday over allegations that she was part of a group that accepted bribes from Qatar in return for promoting pro-Gulf state policies.
Kaili has already been suspended from her duties and is in police custody. More information about specific criminal charges against them is expected to be announced on Wednesday, Belgian officials said.
The Greek politician and her three suspected co-conspirators are accused of accepting lavish gifts and large sums of money from Qatari agents.
What is Kaili’s stance?
Both Qatar and lawmakers have denied any wrongdoing. Kaili’s lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said Tuesday her position was that she “had nothing to do with bribes from Qatar”.
Dimitrakopoulos said on Greek television that he would neither confirm nor deny that large sums of cash were found at her home. Belgian prosecutors have said they found hundreds of thousands of euros in the homes of several suspects, as well as in a hotel room.
Several European lawmakers have called on Kaili to resign. “Given the scale of the corruption scandal, that’s the least we can expect from her,” Left MEP Manon Aubry told Reuters.
Manfred Weber from the conservative European People’s Party said: “Our colleagues in the European Parliament are deeply shocked. These developments are a great burden for us.”
How does this affect Parliament?
The scandal has hit the reputation of the European Parliament hard. The body is the only EU institution composed of officials directly elected in the 27 member countries.
It has also rocked the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) faction in the assembly, the second largest grouping in the 705-strong body that brings together centre-left parties from across the bloc.
Several EU countries, including Germany, said the credibility of the 27-nation union was at stake.
When asked if the European Parliament could repair the situation, Green MEP Erik Marquardt told DW that “this damage cannot be repaired.”
“It is very easy to lose trust and very difficult to regain it. And now I think we can’t ask for people’s trust, we just have to do our homework,” he said, adding that it was time to look at what rules should be strengthened and better enforced, to prevent such scandals in the future.
es/dj (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)