Sunday

27th May 2018

EU parliament chief shows prickly temper

  • Schulz prompted laughter from MEPs when the rulebook proved him wrong (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

European Parliament head Martin Schulz has accused EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton of "disrespect" over an agenda problem.

Speaking at the opening of the session in Strasbourg on Monday (14 January), he said: "Let me make the following remark - in no national parliament in the world would it be thinkable for a member of the government not to attend when summoned."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He added: "I'm afraid no member of the [European] Commission, no member of the [EU] Council, no high representative can turn around and say 'Oh. I'm sorry, my diary doesn't allow me to come to parliament.' I'm afraid this house isn't going to accept that level of disrespect."

Schulz, a German centre-left MEP, was known for his pugilistic rhetoric before taking up the top post.

He has toned down his style as president.

But his brusque words on Ashton marked a return to form.

Ashton was due to talk to MEPs about EU foreign policy, including on the Mali conflict, on Wednesday.

She offered to do the debate on Tuesday instead because of the likelihood she will host a snap EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Wednesday on Mali.

Schulz on Monday claimed it was against parliament rules for him to switch the dates.

But the rulebook proved him wrong and Ashton will now address MEPs on Tuesday instead.

"Cathy Ashton has the utmost respect for the European Parliament," her spokesman, Michael Mann, said.

Ashton convened the extraordinary EU ministers' meeting following a French request.

Mann noted that it will consist of an "update [from France] on what's happening on the ground, on planning for our mission, on what we're doing on the political side and on the humanitarian side and it will be a chance for ministers to come up with any concerns they might have."

France on Friday launched air strikes against rebels in north Mali to stop them from advancing on the country's capital, Bamako.

It has received full EU and UN Security Council backing for its action.

Other EU countries are staying out of the fighting. But they plan to send a military training mission to help get Malian troops into shape in late February or early March.

"By intervening in Mali, France has assumed its international responsibility and fulfilled its international obligations. Key interests were at stake for us, for Africa, for Europe and for the entire international community," French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told press on Monday.

For his part, Abou Dardar, a leader of one of the rebel groups, told AFP in Mali that it will react with attacks on French targets "everywhere. In Bamako, in Africa and in Europe."

"France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France," he said.

Update: This story was updated at 11am CET on Tuesday after the parliament debate was rescheduled for Tuesday

Visual Data

EU budget: Biggest cuts and increases

The European Parliament accused the EU Commission of not providing clear figures for a comparison of the proposed and the current EU budgets. We take a look at the main differences.

Visegrad Four 'nothing to hide' on rule of law issue

Central European countries say they have "nothing to hide" on rule of law issues - while justice commissioner Vera Jourova said they should agree to the Commission's controversial budget plans on rule of law conditionality.

Poland, Hungary push back at EU budget 'conditionality'

EU affairs ministers held their first discussion on the Commission's long-term post-Brexit budget plans - with cohesion and agriculture cuts, phasing put rebates, and the overall size emerging as major divisions.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

Opinion

Europe's budget stasis

The EU's budgetary muddling through might not be enough when the next crisis hits.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach