The European Commission has defended this Wednesday the “transparency” with which the negotiations of the aviation agreement that Brussels closed last year on behalf of the Twenty-seven with Qatar were carried out, a pact with which the EU says it wants to ensure competition fair between airlines but which MEPs are now asking to re-examine after the corruption plot for the payment of bribes.
“The negotiations, with the close involvement of the Twenty-seven, were made to achieve a level playing field in air relations, with provisions to protect fair competition,” said the spokesman for Community Transport, Stefan de Keersmaecker.
He also stressed that the European Parliament was informed at all times of the progress of the negotiation and stressed that both European governments, interest groups, users and airlines were heard in the talks “with total transparency”. In any case, De Keersmaecker has concluded, it is up to the Twenty-seven to decide whether or not to finally ratify the agreement.
Brussels frames this agreement in the European strategy for aviation designed in 2015 and which seeks to “ensure the best possible connectivity between travelers and companies with security”, said the spokesman, who has insisted that the Community Executive requested the countries of the EU in 2015 mandated to negotiate it and obtained such permission in 2016.
The agreement was concluded in October 2021 but it is still in the process of ratification, a long process that must go through all the national parliaments before the plenary session of the European Parliament also ratifies it. At the moment, only six countries –Austria, Latvia, Greece, Ireland, Estonia and the Czech Republic– have ratified the agreement with Qatar, according to what community sources have indicated to Europa Press.
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, announced during this week’s plenary session that the report to endorse the visa waiver for Qatar that was in the process of being adopted will be reviewed in light of information about the alleged payment of bribes to representatives from this country to MEPs and assistants to gain political and economic weight in the EU.
The institution has also decided to suspend all work and voting that may be related to Qatar until the investigation in Belgium clarifies the facts and the plenary is preparing to adopt a resolution to request that Qatari diplomats be vetoed from entering the institution.
In this context, the president of the Transport and Tourism committee, the Green MEP Karima Delli, has informed the different groups of her intention to ask the European Commission for explanations on how this agreement was negotiated and to request the declassification of all the talks about Qatar in the meetings of coordinators that the investigators require.
“In view of recent events, consenting to this deal at this time may prove difficult until it is established that the conditions were transparent and fair,” says Delli, in a communication sent to committee MEPs and to which Europa Press has had access.