Friday

20th Oct 2017

'Rapid reaction force' to monitor Constitution debate

  • "There is so much populism in the debate", says Jo Leinen (Photo: EUobserver)

A 'rapid reaction force' has been set up by MEPs to try and put the record straight if lies are told about the European Constitution.

"Within three hours, or at least within the same day, we want to react to lies and distortions about the Constitution", stated Jo Leinen, head of the European Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Speaking to the EUobserver, Mr Leinen, a German Socialist MEP, said he and a group of MEPs had taken it upon themselves to be the watchdogs on utterances about the Constitution as nobody else is doing it.

"Who is defending the Constitution? No European government is doing it", says Mr Leinen, with an eye on the referendums on the Charter that are to be fought in several member states.

Eight watchdogs

Mr Leinen's other companions in this exercise include the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borell, as well as the authors of the report endorsing the Constitution - overwhelmingly supported by MEPs last week - Inigo Mendez de Vigo and Richard Corbett.

To help the group of eight MEPs keep an eye on debate in 25 member states, European Parliament offices in the member states will "pick up" any information they consider to be a lie and pass it back to the group.

Mr Leinen said that they "would not react to small and tiny comments on the Constitution" but just substantial untruths.

Citing some examples of lies, he said that during the debate in the run up to the Nice Treaty referendum in Ireland, there were claims that it would enable abortion.

Meanwhile, in Germany, there is a peace movement that says the charter is a "military Constitution".

In such cases, a press release or a letter to the editor may be sent by the MEPs.

Line between opinion and fact

However, the MEPs' action does raise questions about the extent to which Constitution opponents may be corrected for giving an opinion on the document.

Mr Leinen admits that there is a thin line between opinion and a lie and that things will have to be dealt with the "on a case by case basis".

Jens-Peter Bonde, a Danish eurosceptic MEP, said it was "a splendid idea" to try and ensure that the debate surrounding the Constitution is factual but criticised the fact that the MEPs involved are all strongly in favour of the charter.

This is not the first instance where the EU is trying to hit back at incorrect reporting in the press.

The European Commission also has a website which has a detailed rebuttal of stories that it says are untrue.

These include stories that have appeared - mainly in the UK press - about such diverse things as pigs having to be given toys; the euro being responsible for impotency and eggs having to carry details of the hens that laid them.

EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans

EU capitals voice support for more summits, tackling divisive issues and sometimes deciding by majority - not consensus - as outlined in the European Council president's plan.

Court battles intensifies on MEPs' 'private' expenses

The EU parliament said the public does not have a right to monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

Eurogroup closes Schaeuble era

Eurozone finance ministers bade farewell to their longest-serving and most influential colleague, while preparing to also replace its chairman at the end of the year.

EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote

As the renewal of the weedkiller glyphosate is a hot potato on the EU agenda, with a vote in the Parliament on Thursday, the role of two closely-involved EU agencies has come under scrutiny.

Europeans more positive about EU, survey shows

On balance, 55 percent of British respondents said the UK had benefited from EU membership. Among all European respondents, 47 percent said their voice counted in the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch PM: Brexit is 'still a bad idea'
  2. Commission to issue proposal on civil protection
  3. Tusk: 'No space' for EU intervention in Catalonia
  4. Austrian PM calls Brexit talks speed 'big disappointment'
  5. PM Muscat: journalist murder 'left a mark' on Malta
  6. Belgian PM: No crisis with Spain over Catalan remarks
  7. Ireland PM: Further Brexit concessions needed from UK
  8. Merkel: rule of law in Turkey going 'in wrong direction'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  3. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  7. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  8. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  9. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  10. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  11. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness

Latest News

  1. EU seeks to shut down sea route from Libya
  2. Digital debate will be first test of Tusk's new policy crowbar
  3. EU Parliament: EU migrant quotas do have a future
  4. EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans
  5. Commission employs double standards in Spain
  6. Legal study sounds alarm on 'Baysanto' merger
  7. Health MEPs want to phase out glyphosate by 2020
  8. Tusk: EU migrant quotas have 'no future'