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Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

Pegasus scandal: governments remain silent while Brussels looks away

Pegasus scandal: governments remain silent while Brussels looks away

European Parliament members put pressure on the European Commission (EC) during a plenary debate on Thursday regarding the Pegasus surveillance scandal. Speaking representatives questioned the EU supervisory and executive body for passively watching as member states refuse to cooperate with the parliament's ad hoc committee (PEGA) investigating the use of spyware. The EC cited limitations to its jurisdiction, which many members of the parliamentary body questioned.
Jeroen Lenaers, the chair of PEGA, criticized the fact that out of the 27 questionnaires sent last summer, which contained questions about the use, legal regulation, prior authorization, and subsequent control of spyware, only ten member states responded.

Representatives from the Hungarian and Polish governments refused to meet with the investigating committee's delegation, which the Dutch Christian Democrat politician called scandalous. His compatriot, liberal Sophie in't Veld, stated that both member states and the European Commission are complicit in protecting the destruction of democracy.

She criticized the Commission for not launching proceedings against countries that repeatedly violate EU law.

In contrast, Hungarian Fidesz representative Schaller-Baross Ernő argued during the debate that the European Parliament oversteps its bounds when it investigates matters of national security, produces reports, or organizes visits to Hungary.

Mairead McGuinness, the Commissioner responsible for financial services, did not ease the critics' concerns when she repeated the EC's position, stating: that the Commission will continue to monitor the situation and hold member states accountable for any breaches of EU law. However, her response was met with skepticism by some representatives, who called for more concrete actions to be taken in response to the Pegasus scandal.

Overall, the debate highlights the ongoing controversy surrounding the use of Pegasus spyware by governments around the world, and the role that the European Union and its member states should play in regulating its use.

While some representatives argue that the EU should take a more proactive stance in protecting democracy and human rights, others believe that national security concerns should take precedence over EU oversight.

As the Pegasus scandal continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how the EU will navigate this complex and contentious issue.
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