MEP Manuela Ripa (ÖDP) on the corruption scandal in the European Parliament

Ripa: “We have to intensify our efforts to fight corruption urgently”

(Brussels/14.12.2022) Following the exposure of the corruption scandal in the European Parliament and the arrest of Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili, Manuela Ripa, Member of the European Parliament for the Ecological Democratic Party (ÖDP), is calling for comprehensive and immediate reforms. The MEP sees the reputation of the entire parliament at risk. “The prejudices about supposedly greedy politicians* are now, unfortunately, getting a new foundation and are immense image damage for the European Parliament. 

Nevertheless, the Parliament must ask itself the question of how it is possible that the control authorities could fail in the Kaili case. The fight against corruption now has to be intensified as a matter of urgency, with a revision of the code of conduct for MEPs and more transparency and accountability to prevent corruption. Members of parliament should no longer be allowed to influence legislation by relating themselves to associations of which they are members. In addition, deputies proven to be corrupted must have their parliamentary mandate revoked.”

The ÖDP politician points out that around 25,000 lobbyists from business enterprises or states are active in Brussels. It is clear that not all lobbying actions are connected with corruption, but the boundaries are sometimes blurred. The European Parliament is relatively strict in terms of lobbying rules for its MEPs and that is a step in the right direction. However, with one significant limitation, according to Manuela Ripa: “A loophole remains for activities related to third countries. There are no notification obligations for MEPs in such cases. This should now be changed urgently. If MPs are invited by authoritarian states, to host conferences in exchange for money or receive lucrative consultancy contracts without this having to be made public so far, that would be unacceptable. Since this is an obvious gateway for corruption, donations from third countries to parliamentarians of the European Parliament have to be banned. Furthermore, I support my political group’s proposal to set up a special committee to investigate corruption and the influence of third countries on the decisions of the European Parliament. All votes of the Parliament with reference to Qatar and trips of MEPs there must be suspended immediately until the case is fully clarified.”

Manuela Ripa points out that there is still a lot of exploitation of influence peddling and corruption at the federal level, too. For example, Germany is one of the few democratic countries in which both individuals and companies can donate unlimited amounts of money to political parties. Moreover, Germany’s transparency rules are less strict than those in Europe. The fact that the FDP, which receives very many donations from industry, spoke out on Monday against a tightening of the German lobbying rules speaks volumes in the opinion of the ÖDP politician: “The fact that bribery of members of parliament has only been considered a crime since last year and no longer just a misdemeanor shows how little attention has so far been paid to this issue in Germany. In addition, it wasn’t just “the mask affair” that proved that corruption is also an issue in the German Bundestag. Furthermore, we need stricter waiting period rules when politicians move to the business world r to interest groups in order to eliminate the so-called ‘revolving door effect’. We should try to find a European solution with strict rules for party donations.”

The MEP points out that her party, the ÖDP, has for a long time been calling for stricter transparency rules for MEPs as well as a ban on corporate party donations, both at the national and EU level. According to its statutes, the ÖDP does not accept donations from industry and is thus free of corporate donations.

Here you can access Manuela Ripa’s interview on Saarländischer Rundfunk on December 12 on this topic: