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Qatargate: Marc Tarabella steps down from EU Parliament Gulf delegation

Qatargate: Marc Tarabella steps down from EU Parliament Gulf delegation

Tarabella is one of two sitting MEPs facing a procedure to lift his legal immunity.
Belgian Socialist MEP Marc Tarabella stepped down Thursday as member and vice chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Qatar and other Arabian Peninsula countries, known as DARP.

Tarabella is one of two MEPs facing his legal immunity being lifted amid allegations that EU politicians accepted money from Qatar and Morocco. Tarabella has repeatedly insisted on his innocence.

“He stated that he took this decision under the current circumstances in the interest of a good continuation of DARP activities,” wrote Hannah Neumann, the German Green MEP who chairs DARP, in an email to delegation members. Neumann added that the next DARP meeting will take place behind closed doors “to take stock of the impact of the so-called ‘Qatargate’ on EU-Gulf relations.”

Tarabella had already suspended himself from the Parliament’s Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group, while his Walloon Socialist party previously revoked his membership. Andrea Cozzolino, an Italian S&D lawmaker who also faces removal of legal immunity and denies wrongdoing, likewise suspended himself from his political group in the Parliament.

Tarabella and Cozzolino no longer appear on the S&D’s website. Their pages now display the message “access denied.”

Tarabella’s decision to step down from DARP comes a day after his fellow S&D lawmaker, Maria Arena, permanently resigned from her role as chair of the subcommittee on human rights — hours after POLITICO reported that she failed to declare a paid-for trip to Qatar.

Last month Cozzolino announced the “temporary auto-suspension” of his position as head of the Parliament’s delegation to Maghreb countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Another Socialist MEP, Emmanuel Maurel, is standing in for him.

Belgian prosecutors declined to comment.

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