Brussels my love: EU Parliament corruption scandal and global corporate tax

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By Méabh Mc Mahon
Brussels my love breaks down European politics.
Brussels my love breaks down European politics.   -  Copyright  Euronews

Euronews' Brussels bureau brings you its seventh episode of a new talk show that aims to break down European news and politics to make it more accessible to viewers.

The episode featured Irish Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne, Michiel van Hulten, the head of Transparency International EU and Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

The talk show was taped as EU heads of state and governments met in Brussels for their end-of-year EU summit.

One of the topics that overshadowed that EU summit was the recent corruption scandal that rocked the European Parliament. Four people, including former vice-president of the European Parliament Eva Kaili, were charged with participation in a criminal organisation, corruption and money laundering.

Investigators recovered over €1.5 million of cash in suitcases and briefcases in searches carried out over the past week, with pictures released by the Belgian police going viral.

Our panellists were not surprised by the scandal, but by the extent of it.

“I'm not shocked that there is corruption in the Parliament, but I am shocked by the scale of it," Transparency International's Michiel van Hulten said.

“The sheer numbers involved, numbers of MEPs, former MEP staff, but also the size of the amounts, that's really unprecedented," he said adding that more people are likely to be implicated. The former MEP believes the system is rotten to its core and that there is a culture of impunity that allowed this kind of incident to happen.

“I think the magnitude of it is deeply shocking and it is surprising, quite frankly, that this would happen in this day and age," Irish European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne said.

He expressed his support for the Irish Taoiseach's call for an EU-wide ethics body. “That is the correct response in this particular scenario that needs to be as strong as possible and needs to cover all of the lawmaking processes in the European Union."

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola used her press conference at the EU summit this week to promise a wide-ranging reform package to tackle corruption among MEPS including more protection for whistleblowers and a ban on so-called friendship groups.

Other topics our panellists gave their thought on include the approval by the EU of a global minimum corporate tax of 15% and EU citizens' overwhelming support for the bloc's support to Ukraine.

Watch the full 'Brussels, my love?' episode in the video player above.