Keyword: European Parliament
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.
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.
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.
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.
The far-right party is suspected of using assistants paid salaries by the European Parliament for local party work in France.
The French and German leaders, addressing the European Parliament, said current rules are obsolete and that a united EU stand must be adopted.
Marine Le Pen's far-right party has created a 'Europe of Nations and Freedoms' group, giving them extra funding, staffing and political clout.
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.
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.
After her party's successes in the recent European elections, the leader of the far-right Front National is striving to form her own multi-national political group at the European Parliament. The official reason is that such a grouping will strengthen the FN president’s political clout in the parliament. But as Ludovic Lamant and Marine Turchi report, there is another reason for setting up the group – and that is to enable the FN to get its hands on several million euros a year in EU funds. Thus this most eurosceptic of French politicians might end up using EU money to help support her attempt to win the French presidency in 2017.
Marine Le Pen is allied to the far-right from four other countries, but must find two more national partners to form parliamentary group.
European elections special: where the candidates to head the EU Commission stand on the controversial transatlantic trade treaty
The free trade treaty currently being hammered out between the European Union and the United States is a major issue in this week’s elections of members of the European Parliament, which in France will be held on Sunday. For this year also sees the departure of EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso, and for the first time the new head of this key EU body will be appointed from the political grouping that does best in this week’s continent-wide elections. Here, Mediapart's Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant questions all of the parties’ declared candidates for the post of Commission president - Martin Schulz, Guy Verhofstadt, Alexis Tsipras, José Bové and Jean-Claude Juncker – and hears their conflicting views on the transatlantic free trade deal.
The former Luxembourg prime minister has just been voted by Europe's mainstream right-wing parties to be their lead candidate ahead of May's European elections. Under new EU rules now in place this means the veteran politician could well become the president of the European Commission later this year. But for many observers Jean-Claude Juncker is indelibly linked to a dated vision of Europe that belongs to the last century. And as Dan Israel and Ludovic Lamant report, he is also closely identified with the financial secrecy of his native country.
A hacker using elementary computer equipment and what he described as “a few bits of knowledge that everyone is capable of finding on the internet” has succeeded in accessing confidential emails and personal files of Members of the European Parliament, their assistants and even the institution’s IT experts, Mediapart can reveal. The operation was, he said, mounted as a demonstration of the vulnerability of security at both the parliament in Strasbourg and also among many national administrations which use software, notably that of Microsoft, that experts have for years warned is exposed to espionage manipulations through fundamental - and what some suggest are possibly deliberate - flaws. While the scandal of mass surveillance employed by the US National Security Agency continues to unfold, Jérôme Hourdeaux reports on how major public institutions like the European Parliament continue to expose themselves to almost mundane intrusion of confidential data.