European Parliament

Macron slams 'illiberal' slide of nationalism in EU countries

International — Link

In a loudly applauded speech before the European Parliament on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned against the spread of nationalist politics among some EU member states, slamming 'a fascination with the illiberal' and insisting that democracy 'is a word with meaning, which emerged from the battles of the past'.

Front National and EU allies face €427,000 bill over 'non-compliant' expenses

France — Investigation

The European Parliament is poised to launch proceedings to reclaim “non-compliant” expenses from the far-right parliamentary grouping that includes France's Front National, Mediapart has learnt. The total amount of the expenses involved, which include “unreasonable” claims of meals costing 400 euros a person, and the purchase of 228 bottles of champagne as gifts, comes to 427,000 euros. Ludovic Lamant and Marine Turchi report.

Macron to push for pan-EU parliament lists despite setback

France — Link

French president's statement came after MEPs rejected a proposal for pan-EU lists of candidates for seats in the European Parliament.

Front National placed under investigation in EU 'fake jobs' case

International — Link

France's far-right Front National party has been placed under investigation by Paris magistrates over suspicion it fraudulently placed France-based staff on the European Parliament payroll as assistants to its sitting MEPs. 

French prosecutors ask EU to lift Le Pen immunity

International — Link

Prosecutors leading an investigation into far-right Front National party leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's involvement in a suspected 'fake jobs' scandal at the European Parliament have asked the institution to lift her parliamentary immunity from questioning and prosecution.

Le Pen refuses to be questioned over 'fake jobs' probe before elections

France — Link

French far-right Front National party leader and presidential election frontrunner Marine Le Pen, implicated in an alleged scam to pay party workers with European Parliament funds, said she will not attend a French magistrate's summons for questioning over the affair before the end of the elections in May.

Net tightens around French far-right leader Le Pen in EU 'fake jobs' probe

France

The chief of staff and senior bodyguard of France's far-right Front National party leader and presidential election candidate Marine Le Pen were on Wednesday questioned in police custody as part of an investigation into alleged fraudulent payments made to them by Le Pen out of European Parliament funds dedicated to remunerating parliamentary assistants. Le Pen's chief of staff, Catherine Griset, was later placed under formal investigation. The case, which mirrors the scandal surrounding conservative presidential candidate François Fillon, now threatens to become more than a severe embarrassment to Le Pen, one of the frontrunners in the election, whose campaign hinges on her image as an anti-establishment alternative to a corrupt political class.

European Greens name and shame the 'co-conspirators of tax dodging'

International

A report published this week by the Greens-EFA group in the European Parliament presented the conclusions of a study of tens of thousands of documents provided by the Offshore Leaks platform of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and which identified the principal intermediaries behind tax evasion. The report demonstrates that many of them are well-known names among banks and financial institutions, operating in countries across Europe as the vehicle for the transfer of huge sum to tax havens. Dan Israel reports.

EU claims 339,000 euros from Marine Le Pen over staff pay

France — Investigation

The European Union's anti-fraud office has called for France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen to pay back hundreds of thousands of euros in staff allowances. Officials say Le Pen, president of the Front National (FN), wrongly paid two of her staff out of EU funds in her capacity as a Member of the European parliament when in fact they were mostly engaged in internal party work. In a joint investigation with magazine Marianne, Mediapart can also reveal that French prosecution authorities have broadened their probe into the financing of around 20 FN assistants at the European Parliament. Marine Turchi reports.

Lifting the lid on the secret EU 'trialogues' where laws are decided behind closed doors

International — Investigation

When the European Union finalises legislation adopted by its executive body, the European Commission, the definitive texts of the directives are thrashed out in secret, closed-door meetings known as “trialogues”, unknown to the general public, where no minutes are kept. The trialogues – sometimes called trilogues – bring together, and without democratic control, representatives from the EU’s three major institutions: the Commission, the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Mediapart's Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.

Police raid Front National HQ in European Parliament funds probe

International — Link

The far-right party is suspected of using assistants paid salaries by the European Parliament for local party work in France.

Hollande and Merkel call for swift EU reform of asylum system

International — Link

The French and German leaders, addressing the European Parliament, said current rules are obsolete and that a united EU stand must be adopted.

France's Front National forms group in European Parliament

France — Link

Marine Le Pen's far-right party  has created a 'Europe of Nations and Freedoms' group, giving them extra funding, staffing and political clout.

European Parliament alerts France over funding of Front National MEPs' staff

International

The European Parliament has alerted the European anti-fraud office OLAF to its suspicions that the French far-right Front National party has misused the legislature’s funds allocated for the payment of parliamentary assistants. Mediapart has gained access to a letter sent by European Parliament president Martin Schulz to French justice minister Christiane Taubira this week in which he details his concerns over “the scale” of the problem, involving 20 assistants to Front National Members of the European Parliament, most of whom are listed on the anti-EU party’s organisation chart as officials based at its headquarters near Paris. Ludovic Lamant and Marine Turchi report.

Euro MPs fear growing influence of the Russian rouble in Europe

France

Mediapart recently revealed how earlier this year Marine Le Pen's far-right Front National party obtained a loan of 9 million euros from a Russian bank. The man who helped broker the deal was French far-right MEP Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, who has confirmed that he received 140,000 euros for his consultancy work. Questions have now been raised in the European Parliament about whether Schaffhauser has officially declared either the income or his extra-curricular activities, with the parliament’s president Martin Schultz promising to investigate the issue. More broadly, reports Ludovic Lamant, there is growing unease in Brussels and Strasbourg about what are feared to be concerted efforts by Russia to buy influence in a number of European political parties.