Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
The European Commission's top transport official is expected to resign after his decision to accept free air travel to Qatar while his team was negotiating a major aviation deal with the Gulf state.
According to two Commission officials and another person familiar with the matter cited by Politico, Henrik Hololei will leave his position as director-general of the transport department and become a political adviser in the Commission's department responsible for international affairs collaborations.
The EU executive previously said that Henrik Hololei's travels were within the rules and that all potential conflicts of interest were "carefully considered and ruled out" at the time.
A Commission spokesman recently revealed that these rules meant that Hololei himself was responsible for deciding that his travels did not create a conflict of interest. Under current rules, this is a decision that general managers such as Hololei can make themselves, the spokesman said during a press briefing in Brussels.
The Commission said it was not aware of any document setting out Hololei's reasoning for his decision.
In early March, Politico revealed that Hololei, the Commission's director-general for transport, flew Qatar Airways business class for free nine times between 2015 and 2021, including six trips during a critical period when the EU Treaty was being drawn up between Qatar for open skies. Four of those flights were paid for by the Qatari government or a group linked to Qatar.