Hits keep climbing for the Slogpost revealing the rabid Guy Verhofstadt MEP to be a fatcat with, um, something of a vested interest in Greek utility privatisation. One of the architects of the policy allowing MEP carpetbaggers to remain silent about their self-seeking greed is none other than Greek-hater General and EU Parliament President Martin Schulz. In fact, when it comes to cover-ups, Schulzstaffel has what British cops would call ‘form’.
Despite nonstop crony corruption scandals among MEPs, transparency standards are not so much lacking in the European parliament level as absent.
As the president of that body, Martin Schulz has failed either to tighten up the contradictory ‘rules’ about nest-feathering, or censure (let alone investigate) MEPs who take monies in order to push causes. Pretty much as Verhofstadt has done over Greek energy privatisation, for example.
This is what the farcical corruption ‘guidance’ for MEPs currently says:
“The code of conduct does not interdict conflicts of interests, but seeks to ensure that any actual or potential conflict of interest is declared promptly and transparently by a member.”
So it’s just fine and dandy for an MEP to be unethical by taking stipends from the Boël empire (Verhofstadt again) so long as he or she tells the Assembly, “By the way, I’m being paid €130,000 year to spout this BS”…except that Guy Verhoftoad didn’t even do that.
But Schulz hasn’t censured Verhofstadt. Schulz, to be exact here, doesn’t censure anyone. But he does censor anyone who tries to censure him in particular, or the Bundesrepublik in general. Did you know that Germany is the only country in the EU which has not ratified the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, nor the United Nation’s Convention against Corruption? Well, as the press project reports, it’s a fact.
Now it could be that Germans are so incorruptible, they think signing the convention to be something of an insult. However, that’s not what the Bavarian Judge told the Siemens defendants in a Greek arms supply corruption case ten years ago. He called Siemens “the most systemically corrupt company” he had ever come across.
So not surprisingly, an MEP asked Schulz’s office in April 2014 the following formal question:
“Has it made recommendations to Germany in order for it to ratify the two aforementioned anti-corruption conventions? What justifications does Germany give for their non-ratification? Does it know if investigations are currently underway in Greece and in Germany to shed light on the particular case which involves improper practices regarding public contracts, bribery etc.? From which authorities? At what stage are they? Are the competent branches of the Commission monitoring the case in question? If yes, which are these? If not under what circumstances will they undertake its investigation?’
The answers to each of these rhetorical questions would have been, in turn, no, none, yes – none, not applicable, not applicable, no, none and none. So this jargobollocks is what the MEP got back from the Secretariat reporting to President Martin Schulz:
‘The President requested that I inform you over his decision, in an implementation of Annex III of the Rules of Procedure , related to the ability to accept questions for a written response (Rule 117).
Given that your question Ε-001247/2014revis.1 was considered to exceed the competence and responsibility of the Commission, the President determined it to be unacceptable’.
Not only did Schulz ‘determine’ the question to be ‘unacceptable’ for a spurious reason – such matters are well within the EC’s competence and remit, it’s what it does for God’s sake – he sent out his poodle to tell the elected Assembly of his gratuitous dismissal of a democratic process. Or put another way, to sweep German export skullduggery under the carpet.
And he’s just as protective of his own self-image of being above reproach. Later the same day Herr Präsident Schulz was keen to hide a somewhat damning criticism of his behaviour in relation to filibustering and delays to slow down his budgetary control committee. Predictably, the criticism came from the Parliament, whose final report about the committee criticised his “flagrant delaying tactics”.
“The fact is, Martin didn’t want certain shall we say ‘irregularities’ to be highlighted,” a former MEP told The Slog last weekend, “so he struck out the paragraph. It was a blatant abuse of his office”.
In fact, my source was being relatively kind: as the EUObserver points out, ‘Schulz sent the chair of the budgetary control committee Michael Theurer a letter [demanding its removal] in late March. Theurer turned down Schulz’s proposal and refused to pull the paragraph, but it was removed anyway’.
“It is a real scandal,” said German centre-right MEP Ingeborg Grassle, who confirmed that his action was illegal: “He can only interfere in amendments but this is not an amendment, it is a text voted by the budget control committee”.
Clearly, Martin Schulz had something to hide. But we don’t know what it was, because the President censored further discussion about it. He continued to postpone committee hearings on the case, which involved accusations against senior officials at the European Commission. Given that Schulz was about to run for a top post at the EC, you can draw your own conclusions.
EC grand fromage and Parliamentary President? Fingers in both pies, shurely?
Two months later, our admirable elected guardians of EU transparency and honesty re-elected Schulz as President of the Parliament. Martin the Grossmaul on Greek tax avoidance now takes home a remuneration package worth over €265,000 a year: and a staggering €160,000 of that income involves special allowances on which he pays no tax whatsoever.
As any MEP will tell you, Schulz’s main job in the following year was to engineer deals, bungs and quids pro quo to ensure Jean-Claude Juncker was installed in the unelected role of President of the Commission. That duly came to pass.
“This later allowed [Juncker] to let loose his dog Schulz on Greece as bad cop, while he played good cop with Alexis Tsipras… who of course ‘betrayed his trust'” asserts the same Brussels source, “Martin isn’t too bright you see, but Juncker briefed him down to the last insult”.
Are the clouds that accompany Martin Schulz merely political smears…or is the social democrat Assembly President a piece of work? The more one looks, the more dodgey he looks.
In January 2014 for example, Schulz awarded a €60,000 PR contract to the wife of Sergei Stanishev, the president of the Party of European Socialists. No favouritism there, then. Respected German magazine Der Spiegel disagreed: investigating the deal in December 2013, Spiegel concluded ‘Schulz has a problem…it’s never a good idea to keep contract awards in the family’.
Präsident Schutzstaffel does in fact have a long history of ignoring any and all attempts to curb MEP depravity on his watch. In October 2012, Friends of the Earth wrote to him as follows:
What FotE didn’t know was that soon after their letter to Schulz, the EU Parliament suddenly found itself voting to weaken the rules regarding what MEPs need to declare when it comes to the receipt of hospitality and gifts. Cecilia Wikstrom MEP called the maneouvre “a complete disgrace”; shortly afterwards, the rules change became the subject of a highly condemnatory European Voice editorial.
The following year, Dehaene died, and Schulz described him as “a good and close friend”. Our old friend Guy Verhofstadt also offered a fulsome tribute to the bloke who had misled his fellow MPs.
Irony note: of the five candidates for Presidency of the EC in May 2014, four were Jean-Claude Juncker, Guy Verhofstadt, Martin Schulz and Alexis Tsipras.
Spot the anti-Greek commonality Chums Reunion. Spot the odd one out of the four.