Readers of Contrib’City remember how the site, while investigating over the false declarations made by certain elected officials of their incomes and/or of their interests, had started at the local level by a Vice President of the Departmental Council of Yvelines, which then gradually went up to the highest French national spheres.
The question of an investigation at the continental level then arose. But the creation of a European Union, in light of the contemporary History of Europe, brought such hope, unimaginable even less than a century before, that the very meaning of an article did not appear obvious.
Of course, the interests of the husband of the European Commission’s President, Heiko von der Leyen, had raised some eyebrows, notably those of the European deputy Michèle Rivasi. The head of the Commission defended herself by saying that the law was respected. OK, let it be!
The seat of the EU, certainly, is the place where multiple powers confront each other and particularly the ones represented by the international trade groups, which try to legitimately assert their positions. This is called lobbying: the companies, at least for those who have the human and financial resources, try to influence the elected official, just like economic stakeholders do. This is perfectly legal, at least till certain limits.
And then the Eva Kaili matter suddenly came, such as a cannonball: the Greek member to the European Parliament, the vice-president of the Parliament, is accused of corruption involving Qatar, the organiser of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Awaiting her judgement, the elected official was placed in preventive detention and was dismissed from his position. Three other people close to the politician were also imprisoned. The piles of cash recovered by the Belgian police from the defendant and the other three accused amounted to: 1.5 million Euros in cash.
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, immediately reacted affirming that: European democracy is under attack! Contrib’City effectively shares this point of view and reiterates that the European Executive is appointed and not elected. It may be appropriate, for the sake of legitimacy, that the appointment be changed to an election, as for the European Parliament. Moreover, the President expressed the need for increased transparency. As a result, this corruption scandal in the midst of the very officers of the Parliament raises a question: is this the first (alleged) instance of corruption or were there others unrevealed to the public? Finally, and it is perhaps the most serious, the authoritarian political systems will laugh over this mishap at our expense. How then, can our political leaders even slightly criticise them when corruption is rampant at the very heart of our institution called democracy?
To remove any ambiguity, the European Union should put in place a tool that already exists in France: a European authority for the transparency of public life. The latter would control and would publish online, before the electors, the revenues, wealth, and interests of candidates, elected officials and european civil servants. A law, which this institution would be based on, would be voted upon and would sanction any false declaration from the persons concerned.
But this European HATVP will have to exercise real control, at all legislative, executive and judiciary levels of authority of the European Union, and not just remain satisfied with an audit on a very small number of people as is the case in France. The rule of law must be applied without local complacency (as we have also seen in the French nation), so that the citizens can have confidence in the people they choose for representing them or for deciding on their disputes. Out of respect for liberty and for the founding fathers of the European Union. Out of respect for even ourselves, Europeans.
Translation: Vidhi Taparia.
(Cover image: HATVPE is for (suggested) Haute Autorité pour la Transparence de la vie publique Européenne: High Authority for Transparency of European Public Life. The HATVP actually exists in France but not – yet? – in the European Union. BdF).