Qatar has long dismissed all allegations raised against it, rejecting attempts to “drag its name” into the issue.
The European Commission said that it does not see “any grounds” to suspending the EU’s aviation agreement with Qatar in light of the corruption allegations in the bloc, Politico reported on Tuesday.
“Are there any grounds for us to consider that it should not continue to apply and [be] ratified? From the Commission’s side we don’t see any of those grounds,” Carlos Bermejo Acosta, a deputy director general at the Commission, told the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN).
The TRAN discussion took place over the ratification process of the EU-Qatar air transport agreement, which provides the Gulf state’s airlines access to the region’s markets. Despite coming into force after being signed in 2021, the agreement is still being ratified by EU members.
The agreement must be ratified by all sides before being sent to the European Parliament for its members to approve it.
However, members of the European Parliament last month voted to pause further moves related to Qatar due to the ongoing allegations of the Gulf state’s involvement in the EU’s latest scandal.
The scandal emerged in December last year after Belgian authorities raided various locations of members of the European Parliament where they seized hundreds of thousands of euros.
Greek MEP Eva Kaili was among those accused of accepting bribes to influence the bloc’s policies related to Doha.
Qatar has dismissed all allegations raised against it, rejecting attempts to “drag its name” into the issue.
Commenting on the agreement, Acosta said that the way in which the agreement was negotiated “doesn’t leave any room for any speculation about something that shouldn’t be done.
Head of TRAN Committee Karima Delli requested further review of the deal while saying Acosta would be invited back to provide information on “some issues we didn’t get clarification on,” Politico added.
Numerous names and claims
The EU scandal has dominated headlines over the past months with different names emerging in media reports as investigations continue.
Aside from Kaili, former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri was also among the top names raised since the scandal was made public.
Last week, a Belgian court withdrew a request to extradite Panzeri’s daughter and wife to Belgium following an agreement between the Belgian court and Italian politician.
Panzeri’s wife Maria Dolores Colleoni and daughter Silvia Panzeri, also suspects in the scandal, will remain under house arrest in Italy instead of facing charges in Belgium.
Citing media leaks, reports were quick to claim Qatar, Morocco, and Bahrain’s alleged involvement in the scandal.
Last month, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani confirmed Doha is “100%” sure that allegations of paying off European officials are baseless.
“As a State of Qatar, we are 100% sure that this premise has no basis. We didn’t see anything. There’s an ongoing investigation. We have to see; we have to wait until the investigation is over,” Sheikh Mohammeed told CNBC in his first comment on the matter.
Sheikh Mohammed highlighted that such Qatar-targeted allegations have only been from the media, and noted that the country itself has not yet received any such complaints from Belgium authorities.
“This problem is a problem that is happening in Europe for a European institution. It is better for them to look at their own institution and do all the steps required for them and not to drag our country’s name in such a situation,” he stressed.