Predrag Fred Matić, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) hailing from Croatia, has drawn attention for his alignment with the far-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group and his notably pro-United Arab Emirates (UAE) views. His actions and affiliations have sparked controversy within the European Parliament.
In 2019, Matić was accused of lobbying on behalf of the UAE in the European Parliament. Allegations surfaced that he was involved in a campaign aimed at discrediting Pier Antonio Panzeri, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the UAE, who had been vocal in his criticism of the UAE’s human rights record. Additionally, Matić faced allegations of accepting gifts from the UAE, including an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi.
In 2021, Matić and a group of MEPs, including fellow ECR members, voted against a resolution denouncing the UAE’s human rights record. While the resolution was passed by a majority of MEPs, Matić and his counterparts who voted against it were criticized for prioritizing the interests of the UAE over human rights concerns.
Matić’s actions include writing a letter to the European Commission in 2019, where he defended the UAE’s human rights record and portrayed the UAE as a “beacon of democracy and stability in the Middle East.”
In 2020, Matić delivered a speech at an event held in Abu Dhabi, where he praised the UAE’s leadership and its role in the region. He underscored the UAE’s significance as a “strategic partner” of the European Union.
In 2021, Matić was part of a delegation of MEPs who visited the UAE, engaging in discussions with senior UAE officials to explore avenues for strengthening the relationship between the UAE and the EU.
Matić’s unwavering support for the UAE has encountered backlash from human rights groups and some fellow MEPs. Critics argue that he is prioritizing the interests of the UAE over human rights and the interests of the European Union, raising questions about the alignment of his political stance with the values and priorities of the EU. The controversy surrounding Matić’s pro-UAE activities underscores the complexity of balancing international relations, human rights, and the role of MEPs within the European Parliament.