20th Jan 2019

Slovak president joins sceptics on European Parliament

The Slovak president has joined Czech and Finnish colleagues in calling for a major overhaul of the European Parliament

Speaking to German daily Die Welt, Ivan Gasparovic suggested the European Parliament in its current form was a "mammoth" and should rather consist of national MPs.

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"I see the biggest problem [as being] in the relationship between the European Parliament and national parliaments", he said, adding that having MEPs who also sit in national assemblies would mean that the Brussels institution would deal with the real concerns of citizens.

Mr Gasparovic argued the plenary session would in that case only need to be held four times a year in Strasbourg, with no need for the Brussels or Luxembourg seats.

"Here we could save billions, that could be used more meaningfully", he said.

Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja recently expressed a similar idea, explaining that the European Parliament should be selected from among members of national assemblies to make it more representative and responsible.

Meanwhile, Czech president Vaclav Klaus is promoting the concept of an "Organization of European States" whose members would be individual member states rather than their citizens, represented directly through institutions such as the current European Parliament.

The European Parliament was made up of national MPs until 1979, when it had its first direct elections.

With each new EU treaty, the body has seen its powers increased.

The frozen EU constitution represented the greatest increase in powers for the parliament to date.

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MEP in spat with Finnish foreign minister

The Finnish foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja, has found himself locked in a war of words with an influential member of the European Parliament after having made disparaging comments about the EU institution.

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

EU warns Romania over corruption amnesty

Juncker warned Romania's government not to move ahead with plans to grant amnesty for corruption, as more than 200 EU laws await decisions during Bucharest's presidency.

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EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

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