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Qatar warns EU of consequences amid graft probe

The European Parliament’s decision to suspend work on Qatar-linked legislation and cut off the access of the country’s officials to the legislature may negatively affect member states’ attempts to secure gas supplies, Doha says. The EU’s move comes amid a Belgian probe into alleged graft of MEPs that may have involved Qatar.

The parliament’s decision on Thursday is “discriminatory,” a statement on Sunday by a diplomat with the Qatari mission to the EU said, as quoted by news agencies. It will “negatively affect regional and global security cooperation, as well as ongoing discussions around global energy poverty and security,” the diplomat added. 

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He stressed Qatar’s cooperation with the EU, particularly Belgium, on issues related to Covid-19 and its role as a key supplier of liquified natural gas to the country, expressing disappointment that Brussels is making “no effort to engage with our government to establish the facts once they became aware of the allegations.” 

Qatari liquified natural gas plays a key role in the EU’s strategy to compensate for the loss of Russian fossils fuels, which it decided to stop purchasing over the conflict in Ukraine. In November, Germany secured a 15-year deal for around 2 million tons annually. Berlin is leading a pan-EU effort to secure better terms from Doha, which is pressuring the bloc into signing long-term contracts that prohibit resale to other parts of the world, which would undermine the EU’s goal of phasing out fossil fuels, according to Bloomberg.

Last week, MEPs voted to suspend all work linked to Qatar and cut off “representatives of Qatari interests” from access to the legislature. The decision affects an EU-Qatar aviation agreement and an EU visa waiver for Qatari and Kuwaiti nationals. MEPs denounced “Qatar’s alleged attempts” to buy influence in the EU.

Belgian law enforcement announced earlier this month that it had charged four individuals linked to the European Parliament in an alleged corruption case. They are suspected of being influenced by lavish presents and cash originating from a foreign government.

The local press identified the unnamed Gulf nation as Qatar, which denied any involvement. The European Parliament’s now-former vice president, Eva Kaili, who was among those charged, was stripped of her senior EU office over the probe last week.

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