Violation of Privacy and Immunity of MEPs:
The leaks from the QatarGate investigation reveal the shocking violation of MEPs’ independent political opinions, uncovering a severe breach of privacy and immunity. The entry of Belgian Police, dressed in plain clothes, into the premises of the European Parliament, and their observation of MEPs’ activities, including discussions involving foreign diplomats, raises serious concerns. This entire scenario not only jeopardises the privacy of MEPs but also violates diplomatic immunity, rendering Brussels unsafe for diplomats.
Illegal Surveillance by Belgian Authorities:
According to European Union law expert Giuseppe Paccione, the entry of the police into parliamentary premises is entirely illegal. The police stayed for an extended period, observing discussions and movements of MEPs, and delving into the detailed activities of a key suspect in the investigation. Such surveillance violates the rights and freedom of expression of MEPs and raises concerns about the safety of parliamentary proceedings and affairs in Brussels.
Compromised Diplomatic Immunity
The presence of foreign diplomats, including the Minister of Labour of Qatar, during the proceedings of a subcommittee meeting, and their observation by the police, indicates a breach of diplomatic immunity. Foreign diplomats and even ministers from other countries are entitled to immunity when attending or serving as guests in parliamentary proceedings. However, the police activities violate those privileges, endangering the safety of diplomats in Brussels and adversely affecting Brussels’ reputation as a secure host for diplomatic activities.
Unlawful Investigation of MEPs
The collaboration of Belgium’s secret services with other European agencies in spying on MEPs, including Eva Kaili, a member of a crucial commission investigating espionage by a foreign country, violates the absolute immunity established by Article 8 of Protocol (No 7). Additionally, it breaches the independence of MEPs, as outlined in Article 9 of parliamentary immunity.
Negative Image of European Politics
The overall scenario paints a sad picture of European politics, projecting a bleak image globally. The violation of statutes, immunity, and privacy of MEPs in Europe’s capital undermines the credibility of the European Parliament as a democratic institution. This negative perception has repercussions on the safety of diplomats and MEPs in Brussels..
The disclosed violations of privacy, immunity, and surveillance of diplomatic activities in Brussels give rise to a compelling argument that the city is not a safe place for Members of the European Parliament and diplomats. These incidents also pose a threat to the functioning and reputation of European institutions based in Belgium.