The majority of MEPs sitting on the European Union’s Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) failed to show up to a meeting with the European Commission’s Olivér Várhelyi on October 26 regarding the bloc’s Palestine spending.
Of the committee’s 54 members and temporary members, only six appeared in person for the gathering, which saw Várhelyi answer questions on EU budget issues relating to Palestine and Ukraine.
Addressing the meeting, ECR Group MEP Cristian Terhes expressed dismay at the poor turnout.
“Before I go into my questions I just want to make a note that this committee has on paper 55, 54 MEPs, and we are in this room, right now, only five [MEPs] and two over there,” he said.
Responding to Terhes, meeting chair Isabel García Muñoz MEP rebuffed the ECR member’s complaint saying that, while there were indeed only six in attendance, that was still six times more than had been present at another meeting earlier in the day.
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— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 25, 2023
Such reassurances that attendance could have been even worse did not appear to reassure Terhes.
Speaking to Brussels Signal after the meeting, Terhes expressed his frustration that MEPs appeared not willing to challenge the EC on how it is “spending or wasting people’s money”.
Such a failure, he said, was exacerbated by the recent terror attacks in Israel, with the EU being the single greatest funder of Palestine despite much of the region being under Hamas control.
“It’s absolutely appalling that just after the cold-blooded slaughter of over a thousand Jews in Israel, only a handful of MEPs would turn up at a committee meeting to do their job and oversee the EU budget over this area,” the Romanian MEP said.
“People have a right to know or at least expect their money is being spent responsibly,” he added.
“It is our duty as MEPs to ensure it is not being used by Palestinian Authority to fund pensions of terrorist widows or be used to produce schoolbooks glorifying Jew killing terrorists.”
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— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 18, 2023
Of the MEPs who did bother to attend, many asked questions regarding the EU’s funding of the Palestinian Authority, despite its close links with terrorist organisations.
Much controversy centred around the EU’s funding of schoolbooks promoting the activities of Islamist terrorists, with Terhes, alongside Dutch MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen, demanding answers on the issue.
“Here’s an example of a book,” Terhes told the committee while holding up one of the UN-linked schoolbooks said to depict an Islamist terrorist.
“If you’re not aware of who this person is, her name is Dalal Mughrabi. On March 11, 1978, along with other terrorists, [she] hijacked two buses,” he said.
“And when the Israeli authorities tried to free those people, they [terrorists] blew themselves up and killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children and over 70 people were wounded.”
Responding to the MEPs’ concerns, Várhelyi accepted criticism of the bloc, saying he had similar feelings of frustration regarding the schoolbooks situation.
“I agree with you,” he told MEPs, insisting that Eurocrats were working to “eradicate” such material from the Palestinian curriculum.
“We cannot rest until the very last of these materials disappear. And I’m fully committed to deliver on that, including in the discussions for next year,” Várhelyi said.
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— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 10, 2023