EU tightens ethics rules for staff as Qatar controversy grows – POLITICO

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The European Fee is rewriting its rules on staff journey bills after POLITICO revealed {that a} prime official accepted free flights with Qatar Airways whereas his crew negotiated a significant aviation cope with the Gulf state.

POLITICO reported on Monday that the director normal of the Fee’s transport division, Henrik Hololei, traveled for free 9 occasions with Qatar Airways between 2015 and 2021. He took most of those flights whereas his crew was placing collectively a sweeping air settlement with the federal government of Qatar, which owns the airline.


Two of those flights had been even paid for immediately by the Qatari state, triggering issues amongst MEPs over a possible battle of curiosity. Others had been funded by foyer teams and convention organizers.

A spokesperson for the Fee mentioned it is going to be tightening its personal rules in gentle of the revelations. Whereas the establishment has been reviewing its staff journey steerage — particularly to cut back carbon emissions — “for some time,” POLITICO’s report on Hololei’s flights has “offered an incentive to evaluate additionally different points of the information the place additional clarifications could possibly be vital,” the spokesperson mentioned.

“The European Fee is within the strategy of tightening the rules regarding hospitality supplied by an exterior occasion organizer to cowl the mission prices of its staff members,” the spokesperson mentioned. “Accepting such hospitality will probably be restricted to main worldwide commitments e.g. the UN, the G7 and the G20, and to hospitality supplied by Member State authorities within the context of official visits throughout the EU.”

Henrik Hololei, the director normal of the Fee’s transport division, flew for free on Qatar Airways 9 occasions between 2015 and 2021, in accordance with particulars obtained by POLITICO | Rodrigo Antunes/EFE by way of EPA

If these rules had been in place on the time, essentially the most controversial of Hololei’s free Qatar Airways flights wouldn’t have been permitted. Hololei declined to remark.

When POLITICO initially approached the Fee for touch upon Hololei’s free flights, a spokesman insisted his journey was all throughout the rules, however gave no particulars of the method by means of which any potential battle of curiosity had been managed.

In current days, calls have been rising for an investigation.

Daniel Freund, a German MEP, had argued that the case must be handed over to the European Public Prosecutor’s Workplace, or the bloc’s anti-fraud watchdog, OLAF. 

“I don’t perceive why anybody within the Fee is accepting free flights paid for by foyer organizations. I simply don’t see how that’s in step with the rules,” he mentioned in a name with POLITICO.

A Fee spokesperson had beforehand mentioned that every one of Hololei’s flights had been “approved and performed in accordance with the relevant rules,” and that potential conflicts of curiosity had been “rigorously thought of and excluded,” a response Freund referred to as “ludicrous.”

His colleague within the Inexperienced group, Irish MEP Ciarán Cuffe, who additionally sits on the European Parliament’s transport committee, mentioned the revelations in POLITICO’s article — obtained by means of a freedom of data request to the Fee — raised “actual issues.”

“I will probably be looking for full particulars from the European Fee of free flights or different advantages given to staff engaged on aviation offers,” Cuffe wrote on social media, including that it was “essential that conflicts of curiosity don’t come up.”


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