EU coronavirus: Thieves looted the European Parliament building when it stood empty because of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • At the height of the epidemic, the lockdown forced most MEPs to remain in their countries and their staff also did not have access to the Parliament building
  • One injured MEP claims that up to a hundred of his colleagues can be robbed
  • Parliament’s office is aware of the thefts, and officials say around 50 MEPs are affected

Original article on POLITICO.eu

Everything indicates that the burglaries were carried out when the building was practically empty, and thieves rummaged in the papers and broke into safes in MP offices to take valuable items.

German MEP Nico Semsrott, who was stolen two laptops, said he was disappointed by the lack of response from the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for Security, known as DG SAFE.

“This is a serious scandal and I don’t know why everyone closes their mouths in this matter,” POLITICO said. “We’re pretty sure the burglars have searched all of our stuff because it was quite a mess.”

Semsrott added that he had information on “40 to 100 MEPs” in which offices the burglaries took place.

On Monday, Semsrott warned colleagues of group thefts and e-mails posted on YouTube a film showing how thieves breached the desk drawer, and then with the key found inside, opened the cabinet with the computers they took, leaving their cardboard packaging.

Semsrott said DG SAFE had not warned MEPs about thefts.

Empty Parliament

In March, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli introduced a strict entry ban to the building, and encouraged Members and staff to stay in their home countries to prevent the spread of the virus. Until May, most of Parliament remained empty.

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A spokeswoman for Parliament reported that burglary information appeared in April, and “increased the number of security guards patrolling the offices,” while “others controlled access to the building.”

She added that DG SAFE is investigating the theft and is in contact with the Belgian authorities. A spokeswoman said the number of victims has not been finally determined, but other officials say the figure is around 50 MEPs.

Dita Cháranzova, a Czech MEP from the liberal group Renew Europe and her vice-president for security, said that she had asked DG SAFE for a report on burglaries and that she would present it at an upcoming meeting of the office that oversees administrative matters.

“For the time being, it is unclear whether these are isolated cases or whether the case is more widespread,” said Cháranzova. – Lockdown made it easier because there were fewer people in buildings during the crisis. I can only encourage Members and staff to report suspected incidents.

Massimo Casanova, a member of the right-wing Italian League, wrote on your Facebook pagethat he complained to Parliament after several “nice unknown people” broke into his office and “broke the locks in his lockers in search, I don’t know what.” Casanova wrote that at first glance “nothing is missing”, but he will check if any documents have been taken from him.

According to the discharge recently adopted by Parliament, which examined the implementation of the EU budget in 2018, DG SAFE had 756 employees and managed 1.5%. Parliament’s entire budget in 2018

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As part of the annual EU budget for Parliament, its share in the protection and surveillance of buildings in 2020 is over EUR 23 million.

Editors: Michał Broniatowski

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