Thursday

18th Jul 2019

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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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

Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency

Appalled over Coca-Cola sponsoring the recent Romanian EU presidency, MEPs have asked Finland, the new holders of the rotating post, to put an end to such practices. But Helsinki, whose presidency is sponsored by BMW, has no such plan.

EU commission has first-ever woman president

Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday obtained a narrow majority of support in the European Parliament to become the first-ever female president of the European Commission.

Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post

European Commission presidential-hopeful Ursula von Der Leyen delivered her key appeal in the European Parliament to secure the post. Her appeal appeared to appease most of the political groups - but a lack of specifics, and opposition from Greens remain.

Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again

Poland's former prime minister, Beata Szydlo, has cried foul after failing to get an EP committee chair a second time, in a fiasco which could spell trouble for the European Commission presidency vote on Tuesday.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  2. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  3. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  4. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  5. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  6. EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'
  7. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  8. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us