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MEPs denounce packaging waste regulation lobbying as violating ‘Qatargate’ rules

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Packaging waste interest groups are aggressively lobbying at the European Parliament premises, in breach of the recently-approved ‘Qatargate’ internal rules, an official source from the European Parliament told Euractiv.

On Wednesday (22 November), MEPs will vote on the draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), a regulation tabled in November 2022 to combat growing waste, boost reuse, and promote recycling.

“Despite the tight rules approved as a way to avoid other scandals as the Qatargate, lobbyists stopped MEPs in the corridors, bars, they even hang ads and leaflets against the packaging proposal at the door of MEPs and assistant’ rooms,” an official source from the European Parliament told Euractiv.

The source did not identify to which lobbying groups the people doing these actions were from. For this reason, Euractiv was unable to approach the group for comment on their activities.

The Italian Five Star Movement MEP Maria Angela Danzí wrote in a note seen by Euractiv that there has been a total lack of security when it comes to this lobbying case and asked the European Parliament President Roberta Metsola to take action and open an investigation.

The Five Star Movement shared with Euractiv the images of ads hung at their doors, picturing people holding a paper cup or eating salad from a plastic bowl with the script “MEPs save our takeaway, PPWR will end takeaway food & drinks by 2035”.

The so-called ‘Qatargate’ scandal erupted last December in Brussels with the arrest of European Parliament vice-president Eva Kaili and former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, together with other MEP assistants, after police found ‘bags of cash’ in their premises.

Panzeri took a plea deal and collaborated with the police, while Kaili denied any wrongdoing. The suspects have all been released while the trials are ongoing.

The allegation is that some MEPs and EU officials received large sums of money from Qatar and Morocco to influence the European Parliament on domestic policy matters, such as human rights and the rule of law.

In response to the scandal, in September the European Parliament adopted a group of internal rules to tighten security around lobbying. However, MEPs are denouncing that these days those rules were violated.

According to the new measures, lobbyists have to ask for an official meeting with EU lawmakers and have to be registered, in order to improve the transparency of MEPs activities. 

This practice was not applied in this case, according to the source, who said lobbyists directly approached MEPs to ask them to vote against the regulation or vote in favour of amendments that would make the legislation more in line with lobbyists’ interests.

Ahead of the committee vote on the draft legislation which occurred in late October, the chair of the environment committee Pascal Canfin said that the law had been “the subject of enormous lobbying by a number of companies, starting with the fast food sector” and denounced ‘biased’ studies used to influence the vote.

Read more with EURACTIV



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