Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella has accepted an invitation to Qatar.

In February 2020, he made a trip to Qatar paid for by the emirate and did not report it to the European Parliament as required, said his lawyer Maxim Töller on Sunday on the Belgian broadcaster RTL.

Socialist MEP Tarabella is said to be a close confidant of former Italian MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri, who is at the center of the EU corruption scandal over alleged interference by World Cup hosts Qatar.

At Panzeri, 600,000 euros in cash had been confiscated.

Tarabella denied any involvement in the case, but now made this admission.

Tarabella's attorney said he was invited to a convention and the organizers paid for it.

An employee reminded him to disclose the trip, but the deadline had already expired, said Toeller.

It is "not illegal to have an organization pay for a trip," emphasized the lawyer.

Tarabella traveled to Qatar to visit stadiums being built for the World Cup and "meet workers".

Possible influence by Panzeri

Tarabella had highlighted the "positive development" of human rights in Qatar in the European Parliament in November - in the name of "Realpolitik" and as "encouragement", as his lawyer said.

It is also possible that the Italian Panzeri advised his friend Tarabella "to say something specific" without him being aware that the Italian MP "moneyed their friendship," said the lawyer.

On Wednesday, Belgian MEP Marie Arena admitted that she had not reported a business trip paid for by Qatar in May 2022.

She blamed her secretariat and a "complicated document."

Arena then gave up her chair of the Human Rights Committee.

On Monday, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, wants to introduce stricter rules against bribery.

Their 14-point anti-corruption plan includes disclosing meetings between MPs and employees with lobbyists.

In addition, former MPs should no longer be given a permanently valid access card to Parliament and should also be allowed to give other people access.