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PARLIAMENT : S&D TO SEVER TIES WITH SEVERIN, WHO STICKS TO MEP SEAT.

The EP's S & D group is set to sever all ties with Adrian Severin, who is still hanging on to his MEP seat. After a meeting, on 21 March, between Severin and S&D leader Martin Schulz, the Romanian MEP pre-empted such an action by resigning from the group. It remains still uncertain whether the EU's Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) will launch a criminal investigation against Severin and two other MEPs involved in an alleged corruption scandal.

The S&D group's Bureau decided to propose to expel the Romanian MEP, on 22 March, and called on him to resign as MEP and give back his mandate to the Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSD). In response, Severin suspended his PSD vice-president office but has not given up his MEP seat, claiming his innocence. Schulz hopes that the Romanian MEP will leave the Parliament "to prevent further damage to the institution".

Jens Geier (S&D, Germany) is dubious about OLAF launching a criminal investigation. The OLAF's mandate limits investigations to the misuse of EU funds, which was not explicitly the case in this instance. Geier feels that if criminal proceedings were to be launched, the decision to that effect would rest with the national authorities. Another interpretation could be that the three MEPs allegedly involved in the scandal did indeed misuse EU taxpayers' money by receiving their salary and then using their position for improper ends.Three MEPs, including Severin, have been accused of accepting bribes in exchange for tabling amendments to EU draft legislation. Two have already resigned: Ernst Strasser (Austria) and Zoran Thaler (Slovenia). Posing as representatives of a lobbying firm, Sunday Times reporters caught them accepting to help amend EU laws for a yearly fee.

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Mar 23, 2011
Words:285
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