Brok remains tight-lipped on cash-for-visits allegations
Senior German MEP Elmar Brok has refused to be drawn on accusations that he charged visitor groups money to enter Parliament.
Elmar Brok | European Parliament Audiovisual
A news website and other media carried a story recently saying that Brok had been accused of profiting from constituents by charging them €150 apiece to visit him while also claiming expenses for receiving his guests.
Brok has said little or nothing publicly on the claims but the allegations resurfaced on Thursday during a debate with other MEPs in Parliament in Brussels.
British member William Dartmouth, a member of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group, took to the floor and, quoting “rule 11, section 3” of Parliament’s internal rules, repeated the claims recently reported by the Politico news website.
- MEPs urged to give green light to transparency measures
- Ombudsman welcomes Parliament’s support for transparency work
- EU institutions can be ‘pioneers’ for lobbying transparency, says campaigning MEP
- MEPs want all lobbyists to sign transparency register before entering Parliament
- Emily O'Reilly: Lack of transparency damaging EU
Dartmouth, also a member of the UK Independence Party, said that, according to the news portal, “our distinguished colleague, Elmar Brok, finds it necessary to generate cash from visitors groups.”
He told the packed plenary, “It would appear that his (MEP) salary and payment from Bertelsmann (a German multinational) are not sufficient.”
To clearly audible applause from several other MEPs, he added, “I therefore propose making a collection in Mr Brok’s honour and I will set the ball rolling by donating 5 cents.”
Turning to other members, he added, “Perhaps someone else will improve on that.”
"Our distinguished colleague, Elmar Brok, finds it necessary to generate cash from visitors groups ... I therefore propose making a collection in Mr Brok’s honour and I will set the ball rolling by donating 5 cents" William Dartmouth MEP
Brok, who appeared shaken by the remarks, was given 30 seconds to respond and told Dartmouth that he would have to apologise for the accusations made against him “sooner or later”, adding, “I hope he does.”
Brok, an EPP member, said he believed the verbal attack was in response to his (Brok’s) speech earlier in Parliament about Brexit.
In an apparent reference to the Irish border issue, which has proved the biggest single obstacle so far to a Brexit deal, Brok added, “I hope I will never undermine Ireland’s interests in the EU and sell them for cash. That would be morally unacceptable.”
Brok, 72, is one of the longest-serving MEPs and a member of the Parliament’s six-strong Brexit steering group. According to Politico, his office made a surplus of almost €18,000 from arranging visits for four groups.
After the lively exchange between Brok and Dartmouth, which came during a voting session, this website contacted both politicians for a comment, but they declined.
Brok, a former chairman of the foreign affairs committee and a close ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel, flatly refused to be drawn on the allegations repeated in plenary by Dartmouth.
But he said he urged the UK to resolve the ongoing Brexit impasse, saying he believes it will be in the interests of both the UK and EU to find a solution soon which will avoid a no-deal Brexit.
He said such an outcome would be bad for both sides.
It is believed Brok will not stand as a candidate in the European elections in May.
Officials from his Christian Democratic Union Party voted this month not to grant him a place on the party's candidate list for the election.
Afterwards, Brok reportedly said, "The EU is close to my heart and I believe I can contribute something to its success at a difficult time."
Each day brings another twist and turn in the Brexit saga and there is still more to come, writes Dmitry Leus.
TTIP will allow Brussels greater influence in Washington, argues Craig Willy.
Ukraine has built a lasting partnership with the European Union, underpinned by trade and security, explains Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze.