Today the Brussels-based Euronews has asked my opinion about some of the legal questions related to the ongoing corruption scandle in the European Parliament. Their report can be found here, but You can be sure that the story is far from being closed.
The legal situation is not that simple, as neither the European Parliament nor the European Union in general has any kind of set of legal rules applicable to situations like these. Therefore, the local Belgian authorities have conducted investigations related to a crime that allegedly was targeted against the EU or one of its institutions, based on classical territorial jurisdiction, as the crime was committed in Belgium. As the European Parliament was quick to offer its full cooperation, including lifting the immunity of the MEPs involved, seemingly more serious legal-political complications will be avoided.
But the situation may not always be that simple. The famous – at least for Hungarians – case of “KGBéla” (a former MEP from the extreme-right wing party Jobbik, who was allegedly cooperating with the Russian intelligence) has opened up a question, for which I still have not found the proper answer – even if I may be the only person interested in that. This question is, if a member state is allowed to create a crime in its own legal system (see the crime of “Espionage against the institutions of the European Union” added into section 261/A of the Hungarian Criminal Code at that time) without any Union-level legal provision and any demand or request for that from the EU or its institutions. Can a member state “protect” EU institutions with its own domestic penal legislative measures? I will definitely come back to this at a later point.
Anyway, I think that to avoid these kind of problems in the future, the European Union shall turn its attention to try to settle this question.