31st Mar 2023


Why three MEPs withdrew from EP petition committee hearing

  • The European Parliament building in Brussels (Photo: EUobserver)
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For a long time, various political groups have consistently expressed their concerns about what is going on in the European Parliament's petitions committee (PETI) — the committee where all EU citizens or residents are allowed to submit a petition to air their grievances or ask for change from the EU institutions.

At least two letters have been sent complaining about the PETI chair's decisions.

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  • A screengrab of the hearing in question at the European Parliament's petitions committee (Photo: European Parliament)

That is why the Greens/EFA, the Socialists & Democrats and The Left withdrew from Tuesday's (28 February) committee hearing committee — it is a symptom of a structural problem.

We would like to highlight the unfortunately biased approach of the chair of the committee, the European People's Party's Dolors Montserrat.

The parliament's PETI committee was once again manipulated for partisan purposes by the Spanish Right.

Since 2017, this committee, chaired by Montserrat, has been instrumentalised in the service of the centre-right's People's Party's (PP) domestic political battles in Spain.

A public hearing was held on Tuesday on the language immersion model in Catalan schools. A system that seeks full mastery of the official languages of the territory at the end of compulsory education, which are Catalan and Spanish throughout Catalonia, and also Occitan Aranese in the Val d'Aran.

The language immersion system in Catalonia enjoys a broad social and political consensus. This is not a debate that divides pro-independence and non-independence supporters, but one that has cross-cutting support in the Catalan Parliament.

Specifically, 116 of the 135 deputies in the Catalan chamber belong to political parties that defend the system.

The Catalan school model generates social cohesion — avoiding separating citizens by linguistic community — and offers positive academic results recognised in studies such as PISA.

In fact, Spanish statistical sources show that Catalonia's system of linguistic immersion is the one that gives the best results in the learning of the official languages compared to the models of other autonomous communities with more than one official language.

We denounce the organisation of this totally-biased public hearing, which will lead to the committee being used once again as a loudspeaker for the political struggles that the Spanish Right cannot win in Spain or in Catalonia.

The process of setting up the hearing has been fraught with irregularities. The four experts who will participate (three proposed by the PP and one by the far-right Vox party) are opposed to Catalonia's language immersion model, which goes against the plurality pursued by the European Parliament's hearings.

Moreover, none of them is an expert in language education and, what is more serious, one of them is a member of the far-right Vox party in the Catalan Parliament.

This situation, which we have been denouncing since 2017, but which is even more staged today with this public hearing, creates a worrying and dangerous precedent, which goes beyond the PETI committee.

That is why the political groups of the Greens/EFA, the Socialists and the Left are not going to participate, in total rejection of Montserrat's manipulation of this committee, which negatively affects the institutional credibility of the European Parliament.

Author bio

Margarete Auken is a Danish Green MEP and PETI committee coordinator, Ana Miranda is a Spanish Green MEP and vice-chair of the PETI committee, Diana Riba is a Spanish Green MEP from Catalonia, and culture and education committee coordinator.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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