The European Parliament voted on May 10 in favor of creating a “public blacklist” of NGOs. The list would identify nonprofits with “acknowledged ties to religious fundamentalist networks” that advocate agendas that undermine E.U. values. Parliament said it was “deeply concerned” by E.U. taxpayer funds going to projects carried out by, or involving “NGOs with links to radical religious and political organizations.”
The blacklist would include NGOs “engaged in activities such as hate speech, incitement to terrorism, religious extremism supporting or glorifying violence,” or that “have misused or misappropriated E.U. funds.”
Creating stronger oversight mechanisms and better vetting procedures is a welcome development, said Vincent Chebat, an NGO Monitor senior researcher, although he added that it could “take years” for it to be implemented as the European Commission doesn’t have to abide by the parliament’s decision.
“It [the vote] doesn’t necessarily bind the European Commission. It’s more in the way of a resolution, like ‘deploring’ or ‘condemning,’ and so on,” said Chebat.
“But what is important is the fact that the European Parliament is raising the issue more and more. E.U. parliament members are aware there is a problem, and they are trying to fix it. It’s good that at least on the legislative side, there are strong voices that condemn such funding.
“It might not happen this year, but if the parliament keeps asking the commission to change policy, maybe in the end, there will be an impact.”
Driving the European Parliament’s move is an ongoing internal investigation into the potential abuse of E.U. funds by terror-affiliated Palestinian NGOs. Chebat said that among Palestinian groups that have received E.U. funds are the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), identified by NGO Monitor as active in BDS activity, and Al Haq, another leader in anti-Israel “lawfare” and BDS campaigns.
Both groups are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and were among six Palestinian “human rights” groups labeled by Israel as terror organizations in October 2021. The E.U. Commission rejected Israel’s designation and has voted to lift a freeze on funds to those groups, though it’s not yet clear if funding will be resumed.
Unfortunately, said Chebat, the Commission is going in the opposite direction of parliament, which received a wake-up call after “Qatargate.” Qatargate, which might end up becoming the largest corruption scandal in European Parliament history, came to light last December.
It involved a bribery case of several high-profile members of the European Parliament, including Eva Kaili, one of the body’s vice presidents. They were accused of taking money to lobby in favor of Qatar and Morocco.
Police raids uncovered €1.5 million ($1.6 million) in cash, distributed in rooms of family members, under beds, and in Kaili’s case, even among her baby’s diapers.
The ringleader, Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former E.U. lawmaker, took a plea deal, in which he agreed to provide details in exchange for a reduced sentence. “The European Parliament feels betrayed by what happened in the Qatargate scandal,” said Chebat, adding that NGOs were involved, including one set up especially to transfer funds in that case.
“Now the parliament understands that NGOs can be a vector for [illicit] funds. They want more transparency, accountability, and traceability,” he said.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate