Thursday

17th Jan 2019

EU parliament: Italian far-right rant broke rules

  • European Parliament press room in Strasbourg. Party supporters may come and listen but they are 'not allowed to speak, demonstrate or applaud speakers' (Photo: European Parliament)

The far-right politician and possible next prime minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, should not have been applauded by supporters or asked journalists to leave a press conference, the European Parliament's communication department has said.

"Members and staff are also permitted to attend press conferences, which are a key part of parliamentary work, but they are not allowed to speak, demonstrate, or applaud speakers, and certainly not to threaten or intimidate journalists carrying out their legitimate work," Jaume Duch, the head of the parliament's directorate-general for communication, said in an email to Italian journalists following the incident.

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

  • Salvini at the press conference (Photo: European Parliament)

He wrote one day after Italian journalists had complained to the parliament's president, Antonio Tajani, also from Italy, amid overtures by Salvini's League party (formerly the Northern League) to form a government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement following recent elections.

The complaint, by six Italian EU correspondents, related to Salvini's press conference in the EU parliament press room in Strasbourg on Tuesday (13 March).

Salvini, an MEP, at one point, accused journalists of "pumping out the propaganda of the European Union" and his supporters in the room applauded his words.

Duch told the Italian journalists to express his "sincerest regrets" for what took place and said that the Europe of National and Freedom (ENF) group, to which Salvini's party belongs, had broken the EU assembly's code.

"The behaviour of those non-journalists present in the press room as well as the conduct of the press conference by the ENF group was in breach of our rules governing use of the press room and a flagrant disrespect for the work and integrity of the journalists present," Duch said.

He said his office had complained in writing to the ENF group.

"We were assured, in their reply, that steps would be taken to avoid such a situation being repeated and that members of the ENF group would be reminded of the rules in force in parliament's press room," Duch said.

"We will closely monitor ENF press conferences in the future for compliance with the rules and respect for the role of the press and examine any additional measures as may be necessary," he added.

Anti-EU coalition 'is possible'

Meanwhile, it is uncertain how often Salvini will return to the EU parliament's press room.

After the Italian elections earlier this month, in which his party won 17.7 percent of the votes, the MEP is eyeing a position in a new Italian government, possibly even prime minister.

He said on Wednesday that his party would team up with anybody, except with the outgoing ruling Democratic Party (PD), opening the door for a eurosceptic coalition with the Five Star Movement, which won 32.2 percent of the votes.

"Barring the PD, everything is possible," said Salvini.

"Before we talk about who, let's talk about what, let's pursue a programme centred on the people outside the corridors of power," he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

Italians vote in election dominated by migration and EU

Sunday's election outcome, under a new system, remains uncertain and is likely to result in uneasy coalitions between parties with conflicting views on how to deal with migrants and play a senior role in Europe.

EU: 'Keep Calm', as Italy struggles to form government

Both the leaders of the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League party claim the position of Italian prime minister, amid renewed eurosceptics remarks while Europe is waiting for a stable government.

Italy votes to become more eurosceptic

A hung parliament is expected, as preliminary results show a good outcome for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the anti-immigrant Northern League.

Call for 'neutral' government fails to end Italy's deadlock

The leaders of the two main political parties want elections in July, despite fears of low turnout and prolonging the uncertainty. EU officials are worried that a prolonged political uncertainty would further weaken the Italian economy.

MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

The EU parliament's internal chiefs have so far refused to introduce mandatory training on dealing with sexual harassment. MEPs have now asked for it again.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us