After a thorough analysis of all the legal aspects of the OLAF request by the EP Legal Service and exchanges-of-views between the two institutions on the highest administrative level, the President informed OLAF that in the specific case of the 'Sunday Times' allegations against MEPs, it has the right to conduct an administrative investigation.
In his first letter the President informed OLAF that the Treaties state that an investigation can be conducted when it is clearly spelt out that the financial interests of the EU are affected and asked the Agency for further information. The second OLAF letter provides these clarifications and the President agrees with the opinion that OLAF has a right to conduct an administrative investigation. The principle that the investigation can go "beyond the protection of finacial interests to include all activities relating to the need to safeguard Community interest against irregular conduct" is enshrined in the EP Rules of Procedure.
"Within its own Rules of Procedure, the EP has provided a generous application of the basic legal act. If OLAF wishes to start an investigation, then it evidently has to conduct it as an administrative, and not a criminal, investigation and act in full respect of the immunity of a Member" - stated the President in the letter.
The President provided yesterday OLAF the digital data which Vice-President Diana Wallis received from the 'Sunday Times'.
"My strong feeling is that the EP has to stick to the rules we established for ourselves. As the President of this institution I have to act as a guardian of its dignity. I have analysed the situation in depth and decided to allow the administrative investigation. In the context of the administrative investigation, I can not allow OLAF to enter into the MEPs offices and I urged the Agency to fully respect the immunity of Members.
I highlight the fact that the EP is ready to fully cooperate with relevant national authorities, including full access to the MEPs offices and computers once the immunity is waved. The Member States dispose all the necessary institutions of the justice system under the rule of law to fully inquire into the current cases. They might equally ask OLAF or the Institutions to support their investigation with their own means".
The President is in close contact with national authorities from the member states concerned. In the meantime, the EP received correspondence from the Austrian and Slovenian prosecuting authorities on those cases. An official letter from the Romanian authorities is also expected very soon. To safeguard any evidence, the offices of the Members concerned are locked and guarded until such a time as the competent authorities have a chance to examine the cases.
The President, as he has already announced, will put forward today proposals to strengthen internal rules: "At today's Conference of Presidents, I will discuss in detail with the leaders of political groups how we tighten up our own standards and our rules for dealing with outside interests."
The President met the representatives of 'Transparency International' yesterday. After the meeting he stated: "I have always believed in the rule of law and transparency in public life. Public officials who are corrupt attack the very fabric of our democracy. There should be zero tolerance for any form of corruption. As I am responsible for the integrity of the European Parliament I am determined to uphold it. "
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For further information:
Robert A. Golanski
Mobile: +32 475 751 663