Antonio López-Istúriz White: MEP or UAE Agent? Examining Pro-UAE Activities in the European Parliament
Antonio López-Istúriz White: A MEP with Pro-UAE Inclinations and Controversial Voting Behaviour
UAE Financing and López-Istúriz White’s Multiple Visits: Probing the Alliance in the European Parliament
Ambiguity Surrounding López-Istúriz White: Conflicting Roles and Potential UAE Influence
The European Parliament stands out among EU institutions as having the most visible presence and influence from the United Arab Emirates. The UAE Embassy has established a strong presence within the Parliament through the EU-UAE Friendship Group, an unofficial collective comprising prominent MEPs. This group effectively serves as a platform for promoting the interests of the UAE government, essentially acting as its mouthpiece. Notably, Antonio López-Istúriz White, a MEP with pro-UAE inclinations, holds the position of President of the European Union-United Arab Emirates Parliamentary Friendship Group. However, his activities and voting behaviour suggest that López-Istúriz White is actively working in favour of UAE interests within the EU. The nature of his activities suggests that he functions as an agent representing the UAE’s agenda within the European Parliament.
Antonio López-Istúriz White, a prominent MEP, holds significant positions within the European Parliament. He serves as Vice-Chair of the European People’s Party. Furthermore, White holds the important role of Chair of the Parliament’s Official Delegation to Israel, highlighting his involvement in matters related to the region. López-Istúriz White has repeatedly commended the UAE on several occasions for its “significant contributions to addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.” He has also expressed admiration for the country’s education system and its efforts to promote tolerance and dialogue.
Under the leadership of President Antonio López-Istúriz, the UAE has been leveraging the EU-UAE Friendship Group to exert influence over policy discussions and voting decisions related to foreign policy matters that hold significant importance for the Emirates. These matters include resolutions concerning Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, arms exports, and the situation of human rights defenders within the UAE, including the case of Ahmed Mansoor, who is currently imprisoned.
Antonio López-Istúriz White’s close ties with the UAE are further evident through his multiple visits to the Emirates, which were financed by the UAE government. It is worth noting that on at least one occasion, the entire EU-UAE Friendship Group was invited to join him on these trips. These visits serve as a testament to the collaborative relationship between López-Istúriz White and the UAE, and suggest a concerted effort to strengthen their influence within the European Parliament.
In October 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution addressing the unjust treatment of Ahmed Mansoor, who had been arrested and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison. Mansoor’s only “crime” was exercising his right to free speech. Astonishingly, López-Istúriz White rejected this resolution, thereby raising concerns about his alignment with the UAE’s stance on human rights and freedom of expression.
During a five-day visit to Abu Dhabi on 17 November 2016, Antonio López-Istúriz White’s expenses were covered by Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and John Hamre, the President of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. It is worth noting that the Anwar Gargash Academy has been associated with whitewashing the UAE’s human rights violations. López-Istúriz White’s participation in this academy’s activities during his extended visit raises significant concerns about his affiliations and motives. During this visit, López-Istúriz White attended the 7th Sir Bani Yas Forum, which was organised by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and CSIS. This forum serves as a platform for discussing strategic issues, and López-Istúriz White’s presence raises questions about the nature of his involvement and the potential influence of UAE interests on his activities.
López-Istúriz White chaired a meeting in the European Parliament between the ambassadors of Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain in September 2020. It is important to note that he held the positions of Vice-Chair of the European People’s Party (EPP) and Chair of the EU-UAE Friendship Group at the time. However, this situation has created confusion regarding whether López-Istúriz White was representing the EPP or acting as a correspondent for the UAE. The dual roles he assumed during this meeting raise concerns about the potential conflicts of interest and the extent to which he may prioritise the interests of the UAE over those of the EPP or the European Parliament as a whole.
These instances, from the funded visit to Abu Dhabi to his involvement in high-level meetings, contribute to the ambiguity surrounding López-Istúriz White’s allegiances and the potential influence of the UAE on his actions and positions within the European Parliament. These activities, including the financed trips and the rejection of resolutions aimed at protecting human rights, collectively reflect López-Istúriz White’s pro-UAE intentions. They underscore his commitment to advancing the interests of the UAE within the European Parliament and raise questions about the extent to which his actions may be influenced by the UAE government.