More effort is needed to ensure transparency in Cyprus and Greece, the European parliament’s committee of inquiry on Pegasus and other spyware (Pega) said on Friday after visiting the two countries.

Pega left “with more questions” than they had before MEPs visited Cyprus and Greece this week despite constructive exchanges with government representatives, journalists and civil society representatives.

But they said they found no “clear signs of corruption” and gave instructions on how such allegations should be investigated.

“Although we did not find clear signs of corruption or the kind of authoritarian practices we see in Poland or, according to reports, in Hungary, more effort is needed to ensure transparency,” committee chairman Jeroen Lenaers said on Friday.

The Dutch politician noted that “any allegations of abuse of the practice of monitoring must be thoroughly investigated and the necessary safeguards must be put in place.”

Unlike what is happening in other countries, Lenaers said governments of Cyprus and Greece have actively cooperated with the committee members and informed them of their proposals for reforms.

These reforms, which will be subject to public consultation in the coming months, are expected to improve transparency and enforcement of existing legislation and ensure proper judicial oversight of the use of surveillance, the chairman said. “We look forward to the adoption of targeted legislation and related policies.”

For her part, Rapporteur Sophie in’t Veld refer to “worrying reports” by local journalists.

“After our four-day stay in Cyprus and Greece, we leave with perhaps more questions than we had when we arrived.

“We have heard worrying reports from journalists who feel unsafe when writing around important issues, that the independent data protection authority is under pressure and that national security is being used as a pretext to abuse and monitor spyware,” she said.

Spyware companies seem to have created a “terrifying web of connections that can even reach public authorities”, Veld noted, even though EU legislation on beneficial ownership registers is designed in such a way that this kind of information is made public.

“The EU needs clear rules to limit the use of national security services for surveillance, ensuring proper judicial oversight and a healthy and pluralistic media environment,” she added.

MEPs of the Committee of Inquiry investigating the use of Pegasus and other spyware visited Cyprus and Greece from November 1 to 4.

During their visit to Cyprus, the MEPs met with the Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry Natasa Pilides, other government officials and members of the House of Representatives who participated in relevant committees, to discuss the current legal framework. They also held talks with legal experts, NGO representatives and journalists, who submitted documents on monitoring and corruption to the EP committee delegation.

In Greece, they met with investigative journalists working to uncover cases of spyware abuse, MPs from both government and opposition parties, who participated in the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the illegal surveillance of opposition party leader PASOK and MEP Nikos Androulakis (Socialists, Greece). In a meeting with State Minister Georgios Gerapetritis, MEPs also discussed high-profile surveillance cases and the wider context of media pluralism and the rule of law in Greece. During the visit, they also met with journalist Thanasis Koukakis and other prominent individuals targeted by spyware, the President of the Greek data protection authority ADAE Christos Rammos, as well as NGOs and human rights defenders.