How to save NGOs from the Qatargate black sheep


How to save NGOs from the Qatargate black sheep

Euro bank notes in a briefcase

Millions of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) do outstanding work every day, both locally and globally. They help to change the world in their niche, and their hard-working staff deserve admiration and respect.

Yet, as with any other public activity, there are those disingenuous people who use NGOs as a cover for bribery, opaque lobbying and influence peddling, as the 2022 Qatargate scandal has shown. In this scandal, a former Member of Parliament, a former Vice-President of the European Parliament and several of their Socialist colleagues abused the system for their own benefit. Fortunately, they are now facing justice. However, as this case has shown, we need to reinforce controls and plug loopholes to prevent corruption cases like Qatargate as far as possible.

We EPP Group Members have been advocating for clear standards and transparent and enforceable rules. Unfortunately, not everyone in the European Parliament is willing to cooperate with us in a thorough reflection and investigation of the Qatargate scandal. These are mainly colleagues from the Socialists and the Greens. At this moment, when the Institutions are facing a massive crisis of confidence, it is up to all of us to try to restore trust.

We must expose the black sheep who undermine our work and that of all legitimate NGOs worldwide.

The millions of euros stuffed into the suitcases of the accused by front organisations disguised as NGOs is a massive blow to all of us trying to do politics reasonably and by the rules. The vast majority of Parliament and the other Institutions should not be mixed up with the criminals who took the bribes, and we do not want to blame all NGOs for the misconduct of a few. We must fight together if we want to regain the trust of our citizens. We must expose the black sheep who undermine our work and that of all legitimate NGOs worldwide.

To make the EU legislative process as transparent as possible, we support the immediate measures for greater transparency introduced by the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola. But, we also need to get to the core of the scandal. We urgently need comprehensive financial pre-screening of NGOs before they are listed in the transparency register. Currently, only the EU funds directly awarded to NGOs are subject to monitoring and reporting. This means that it is difficult to track EU funds that are reallocated in the form of sub-grants, sub-contracts or shared within a consortium.

Moreover, we call on the Commission to verify the reallocation of funds and their use by each beneficiary and propose to create a public exclusion list of NGOs to ensure that NGOs that have engaged in activities such as hate speech, incitement to terrorism or religious extremism are blocked from access to EU funds.

The EPP Group will continue to work on concrete steps in the Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee and in close cooperation with the European Court of Auditors.

Let us not forget that these are difficult times. A brutal war is raging on our continent. We face economic problems. It is more important than ever that we allow citizens to maintain their confidence in our European Institutions and their law-making process. We are on the same side in this struggle as all the NGOs that want to solve problems. We need to set rules that make it harder for non-transparent and fictitious NGOs to sneak around and deceive the EU institutions. We are determined and we will continue this fight, with or without the support of the Socialists and Greens.

Monika Hohlmeier MEP, Chair of the Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control

Petri Sarvamaa MEP, the EPP Group Spokesman on Budgetary Control

Note to editors

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 176 Members from all EU Member States

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