July 15. 2024. 6:55

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Raid of EPP HQ causes frustration in centre-right family

The Belgian police’s raid in the European People’s Party (EPP) headquarters on Tuesday in Brussels over an alleged scandal involving a former consultant of EPP chief Manfred Weber has caused frustration within the EU centre-right family, EURACTIV has learnt.

EURACTIV broke the news on Tuesday that in a sudden move, the Belgian police raided the EPP offices, checking computers and requesting documents related to an ongoing inquiry into alleged corruption during the 2019 EU election campaign.

An EPP staff member who was present during the raid told EURACTIV that “whatever the Belgian police requested, it was provided”.

In the spotlight is Christian-Democrat (CDU) lawmaker Mario Voigt, the digital campaign manager for EPP leader Manfred Weber during the 2019 EU election campaign.

According to German media reports, the inquiries centre on awarding the contract for the digital campaign to a company in Thuringia, Germany.

Voigt is now leader of the CDU in Thuringia.

The ‘visit’

The EPP tried to downplay the issue, saying in a statement that it was a “visit”, something that caused criticism on social media.

“Representatives from the Belgian and German police authorities visited the party headquarters in Brussels […] the visit is connected to an ongoing inquiry in Thuringia, Germany,” the EPP said in a short statement.

“The party is cooperating in full transparency with the authorities involved, providing all relevant information and documentation,” it added.

Although Voigt was an external consultant during the 2019 EU elections, he had close ties with Weber.

“Weber brought him to the elections campaign, it was his personal choice”, an EPP source from the group in the EU Parliament said, adding that “nothing could go through without Voigt’s greenlight during the pre-election campaign”.

The same source added that Voigt also has personal ties with Udo Zolleis, the current EPP’s head of strategy unit and Weber’s right hand.

“Weber will have a political cost because of this story”, the source added.

As a leader of the EPP Party and Group, Weber has been cautious regarding the Qatargate involving socialist politicians.

His suggestion to his members after the scandal was revealed was to adopt a “wait and see” approach despite calls for an “attack” against the socialist group.

Unlike Weber, though, the EPP secretary general Thanasis Bakolas said publicly that the Qatargate was “a socialist problem”.

Dear @TheProgressives, could you please update that tweet from @EPP ? ⤵️
Thank you!https://t.co/afImCFwJKf pic.twitter.com/6ytK2u0LB8

— Leurocrate