Wednesday

21st Aug 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.

Investigation

The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade

Around 30 members of European Economic Social Committee, who live and work primarily in Brussels or nearby, have claimed €1.47m in a 'daily subsistence' allowance from European taxpayers to cover accommodation, food and local transport for meetings held in Brussels.

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. Open Arms may face fine in Spain 
  2. Belgium's EU commission hopeful in free press row
  3. Conte turns on Salvini as Italy prepares for change
  4. Nordic-German climate action signals broader alliance
  5. The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade
  6. Spain calls for legal action against Italy on migrants
  7. Trump to meet Greenland leader in Denmark
  8. Irish border plan is 'anti-democratic', Johnson tells EU

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us