BRUSSELS - The EU notes respect for human rights as one of its core values. However a number of MEPs who represent democratic and liberal countries, have in recent years, become increasingly friendly with autocratic regimes including that of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. 

These MEPs often organise in friendship groups that are outside of EU regulations and receive “gifts” from various lobby groups who help arrange their travel to countries like Syria. They maintain they are exercising their right to free speech but these speeches which travel from pariah regimes to the parliament floor are peppered with disinformation and “fake news”.

With EU watchdog mechanisms failing miserably the question is, have some MEPs abandoned the European values?

The core values of the European Union are “respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law” yet every year. MEPs travel as part of unofficial delegations and unregulated friendship groups to ”pariah” regimes accused of human rights abuses.

This independent cross-border investigation seeks to explain the nature and impact of these trips through the prism of Syria. A team of journalists is looking at the role these visits play in the day to day workings of the parliament and the spread of disinformation.

Photo credit: Collins photos Irish Mail on Sunday 

Team members

Norma Costello

Norma Costello is an award-winning freelance journalist from Ireland. 

Norma Costello

Ibrahim Al Shikh Ali

Ibrahim Al Shikh Ali is a Syrian freelance journalist.

€7.000 allocated on 18/06/2021



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