Polish MEPs hit back at reports of payments from the UAE and undeclared allegations

Polish MEP Radoslaw Sikorski has sent an open letter to Dutch newspaper NRC blasting a report it conducted about regular payments it received from the UAE to act as an adviser to a lawmaker and for undeclared luxury trips to Dubai.

“It is unfair to say that I do not announce my mission. I have always declared everything on the relevant website of the European Parliament — as required,” the EPP group lawmaker said in a message. the letter Intended to the editor of the Thursday publication.

It was in response to an investigation into his ties to the UAE, published on Wednesday, which found that Sikorsky regularly traveled to the UAE for “free stays at luxury resorts” and received €93,000 a year from the Gulf state for a role on the advisory board of the Sir Bani Yas Forum since 2017.

“In addition to his salary as an MEP, €7,646 net per month, he receives an additional $100,000 (€93,000) annually from the Emirates for consulting at conferences,” the NRC said.

But the lawmaker said in his letter published on Twitter that these “extra-parliamentary activities” were listed in his declaration of financial interests, which was submitted to the Polish parliament.

Furthermore, he said the Sir Bani Yass Forum is “the most respected conference in the Middle East”, citing fellow advisory board members such as “a former Prime Minister of Australia and a former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom”. Also participating in the 2022 Forum are US President’s Special Envoy on Climate Action John Kerry and EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell.

Sikorsky said it was “wrong to associate it with a prestigious role” and his position as a member of the European Parliament.

Sikorsky’s recent filing with the Polish parliament directly acknowledges its role in the Sir Bunny Yas Forum and $100,000 in compensation. His European Parliament disclosure, updated in 2021, said he earns up to 10,000 euros per month for his activities with his consulting service Sikorsky Global. According to the filing, the work has various advisory boards including Sir Bani Yas.

Sikorsky listed his participation in the forum over two days in a list of meetings on the European Parliament’s website, without detailing individual discussions; His entries for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and the Munich Security Conference are similar. However, he does not include any of those gatherings in a set of declarations about expenses for events organized by third parties. Sikorsky told the NRC that he was not required to provide details of the Emirates trip because “it was part of my non-paid activities.”

Sikorsky’s office declined to comment beyond his letter posted on Twitter.

“Direct influence cannot be demonstrated,” the NRC report acknowledged, even as its analysis found that Sikorsky “takes positions favorable to the Emirates and its closest ally, Saudi Arabia — generally aligned with its Christian Democratic group.”

The newspaper cited his support for efforts to soften a resolution on the Saudi death penalty, after he voted against a European Parliament resolution calling on member states to end arms supplies to Saudi Arabia after the 2020 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sikorsky argued that his voting behavior was “in line with the voting recommendations of my political group, the EPP Group in the European Parliament.”

He added, “I hope you appreciate that I comply with all national and European rules on transparency.”

Mechanisms to prevent conflicts of interest in Parliament are subject to little enforcement, and the issue of side jobs has been identified as a concern for political integrity.

The agency is currently working on reforming its transparency rules with an emphasis on shining a brighter light on foreign influence. An investigation ensnared a former vice president of the European Parliament, Eva Kelly, and a former MEP, both Social Democrats, who headed the body’s human rights panel. According to the Belgian judiciary, they are accused of taking part in a network of corruption and exerting undue influence over Moroccan and Qatari interests.