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29th Mar 2020

EP president threatens MEP with sanctions over a tweet

  • It does not make any sense that an MEP is sanctioned for supporting civil disobedience - but not for receiving money from fossil-fuel lobbies, Aubry said (Photo: Alexander Savin)

The president of the European parliament, David Sassoli, has threatened the co-chair of the leftist GUE/NGL group MEP Manon Aubry with sanctions over a tweet in which she encouraged the green activist group Extinction Rebellion to occupy the European parliament.

However, Aubry accused on Tuesday (5 November) Sassoli of undermining the freedom of expression of MEPs.

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In the video posted on Aubry's YouTube and Twitter accounts last month, the French MEP proposed that the activists of the Extinction Rebellion could occupy a part of the parliament.

The UK-founded group is known for its recent actions of civil disobedience in European capitals, such as blocking main roads in London or Paris.

"The whole aim was not to create controversy but to support to use civil disobedience as a way to call for urgent action on climate", she told EUobserver.

But right after Aubry published her video, Sassoli sent her a letter saying that her tweet was not in line with the internal rules of the institution and she may receive sanctions for her actions.

In response, she said that the possible sanctions would be "totally disproportionate" and they could set a precedent on questioning the freedom of expression of MEPs.

According to Aubry, her tweet did not break any rules of procedure of the European parliament since the video does not encourage the climate activists to compromise the running parliamentary proceedings, the security or the proper functioning of the institution.

Even if these activists came to sit peacefully in the European parliament, which did not happen, their action would not be likely to affect the functioning of the parliament, she wrote in the letter addressed to Sassoli.

French Green MEP Marie Toussant backed Aubry saying that "it is the lack of response to the environmental urgency what compromise the respect for the democratic rules".

Aubry, who had a career in the field of civil society, said that it does not make any sense that an MEP is sanctioned for supporting civil disobedience, but not for receiving money from fossil fuel lobbies.

New climate failure

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the EU reacted to Monday's news that the US has officially refused to commit to the Paris climate agreement - making America the only country in the world that will not participate in this pact.

At the Paris climate conference in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate deal to keep the increase in global temperature well below 2°C and pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5°C.

The European Commission said it regretted the decision.

"The Paris agreement is here to stay, its door remains open and we hope the US will join it again one day," a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Next month, the UN COP25 climate summit will take place in Madrid, following Chile's withdrawal due to the violent protests.

However, it is still unclear how the withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement will affect the upcoming climate negotiations.

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