A report published by an obscure EU panel risks turning into a political powder keg after it was published online and then taken down again.
The European Union (EU) has a long history of scandals and secrecy. In 1999, for example, all 20 members of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, were forced to resign after a whistle-blower report revealed widespread fraud, nepotism, and serious management failings. Far from being the harbinger of change, however, the incident was simply a taste of what was later to come.
The Galvin Report, named after Robert Galvin, the EU’s internal audit official who authored it, was written at the end of 2006 as an audit of the expenses and allowances claimed by a sample of more than 160 lawmakers. Revealing shocking abuses, the report’s existence was deliberately covered up until February 2008 when news of it was leaked by Chris Davies, an EU lawmaker from the UK. Even then, its contents remained secret and only a select group of lawmakers were allowed to read it in a locked and guarded room. Had it not been published by WikiLeaks in 2009, the report would likely still be secret today.
Secrecy and non-transparency are the norm in EU institutions, which habitually endeavor to hide the truth from their citizens. In fact, a leaked European Commission internal memo from 2009 actively encourages officials to conceal information from public scrutiny. The memo tells officials they can evade European freedom of information laws by making two sets of documents, a neutral one for public release and a classified version for internal use only.
Even Eurojust, the EU’s anti-crime agency, has been involved in corruption scandals. In December 2009, the head of Eurojust, Jose da Mota, resigned after he was suspended for 30 days for having put pressure on Portuguese prosecutors to stop a corruption probe involving Portuguese prime minister Jose Sócrates. No stranger to scandal himself, Sócrates was later arrested on charges of money laundering and other crimes.
To learn about ‘Qatargate,’ the latest scandal to engulf the EU, see this article on our website.