Corruption scandal shakes European Parliament

Brussels (Belga) – This weekend, a court in Belgium announced that it is investigating a large-scale corruption case in the European Parliament. On Sunday, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office reported that four suspects were placed under arrest. “They are accused of membership in a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption,” it said.

According to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, investigations have been ongoing for several months. Investigators from the Federal Judicial Police suspected that a Persian Gulf country was trying to influence the decision-making of the European Parliament by paying large sums of money or offering significant gifts to parties who hold strategic parliamentary positions.

Sixteen searches took place on Friday and six people were arrested. Investigators also seized 600,000 euros in cash, computer equipment and cell phones. Arrest warrants were issued for four of the six people on Sunday.

One of them is Eva Kaili, who was first suspended and then removed as Vice-President of the European Parliament on December 13. The Greek socialist will not be able to invoke her parliamentary immunity because she was caught red-handed. The Greek anti money laundering authority has already announced that her assets are frozen.

Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella (PS/S&D) now confirmed that he was also searched on Saturday night. “The court does its research, which I think is normal. I have nothing to hide and will answer all questions to clarify this matter,” he said. For her part, his colleague and fellow party member Marie Arena confirmed that her assistant’s office was searched on Friday. (December 13)

Dispute over US subsidies: EU Commission expects results in weeks

Brussels (dpa) – In the dispute over billions of dollars in subsidies for US companies, the EU Commission expects concessions from Washington by the end of the year. It was important that negotiations with the US government would deliver concrete results before the end of the year, said EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. Then it would be possible to analyze to what extent the EU’s concerns had been met and what next steps could be taken.

The background of the dispute between the EU and the US is a huge investment program that many in Europe see as disadvantageous. Washington wants to invest tens of billions of dollars in climate protection over the next ten years, for example to promote the production of solar cells and wind turbines. It is now feared that European and German companies will move sites to the US or open new plants there.

“Our problem with the US is not the subsidies as such, but the fact that they are granted in a discriminatory way,” Dombrovskis said. (December 10)

Getting candidate status would be great incentive for BiH’s entire society

Sarajevo (FENA) – Edin Dilberović, head of the Directorate for European Integration (DEI), believes that obtaining the EU candidate status would be a great incentive for the entire society of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). It would send a message that goals are achievable and results are rewarded. He added that candidate status was a procedural step that had to be taken by any country that wanted to have access to the European family.

“For some countries, it was the first step, and for us in BiH it is a step that requires a lot of preliminary work in adapting the legal, political and economic system to the rules in force in the European Union,” Dilberović said.

According to him, since the publication of the European Commission’s opinion, the work of the institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina has focused on 14 key priorities that will remain in place even after obtaining candidate status. He says that a number of tasks related to these priorities have been realized or their implementation is underway, but some of the most important laws have yet to be adopted. These include, for example, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council Law, the Law on Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest.

European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said the European Commission has sent a proposal to the member states, the European Council, to grant Bosnia and Herzegovina candidate status. (December 11)

The H2MED corridor will have two routes and cost around 2.5 billion euros

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez with French President Emmanuel Macron and Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa as well as the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on December 9 to talk about the development of the H2Med green hydrogen submarine corridor, between Barcelona and Marseille. Photo: EFE/ Kai Forsterling

Alicante (EFE) – The so-called H2MED green energy subsea corridor, which will ultimately transport hydrogen, will consist of two pipelines: one between Portugal and Spain and the other between Spain and France. The cost will be around 2.5 billion euros.

The project, which is expected to be operational by 2030, is seeking EU funding, according to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. He described the submission of H2MED before the December 15 deadline as a “first milestone” for it to be declared a project of common interest by Brussels.

“It is a very good example of how three states understand how to cooperate and act together for the benefit of the entire European Union,”

said Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal.

The H2MED corridor will consist of two sections, an existing section to be upgraded between Celorico da Beira (Portugal) and the Spanish city of Zamora, called CelZa, and a new section between Barcelona (Spain) and Marseille (France), known as BarMar. Both will be part of the “first major hydrogen corridor in the European Union”, an infrastructure that will be able to transport 10 percent of the total renewable hydrogen targeted by member states in the RePower EU plan. (December 9)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.