Friday

24th May 2019

MEPs probe funding of anti-Jewish book

European Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering has said no EU money was used to print an anti-Semitic booklet by Polish MEP Maciej Giertych, adding he is "profoundly troubled" by the text and that racism is "against fundamental European values."

The 30-page booklet by Mr Giertych, which carries a prominent European Parliament logo on the front cover, says Jews like to settle "among the rich" and "create their own ghettos." It also speaks of Jewish "biological separation" leading to differences in facial features.

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

The 71-year old Polish deputy sent the text - called "Civilisations at War in Europe" - to fellow MEPs and is now distributing it through his website. Mr Giertych - a botanist by background - last year caused outrage by praising Spain's former fascist dictator, Franco.

The European Jewish Congress in Paris on Friday (16 February) said the book contains "the same pre-war theories that led to the Holocaust" and called for Mr Giertych to lose his parliamentary immunity. A spokesman for the European Commission called the MEP's ideas "repugnant."

"Mr Poettering condemns [the text], but there is no ex-ante scrutiny of MEPs' publications," his spokeswoman told EUobserver. "You cannot ask members to submit what they want to publish in advance. Freedom of speech is an important right in the European Parliament."

She added that under Rules 9, 146 and 147 of parliament procedure, MEPs who violate "fundamental values of the EU" can also be excluded from sessions and lose financial allowances. But the primary aim of these rules is misbehaviour in plenary itself, the spokeswoman explained.

The issue of hate crime is high on the German EU presidency's agenda, with Berlin currently pushing EU states to pass a new law criminalising "public incitement to violence or hatred, even by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material."

The Giertych book comes at a sensitive time for the European Parliament, which last month saw the endowment of a new far-right political group led by French MEP Bruno Gollnisch, recently fined €55,000 for Holocaust denial in France.

The booklet is also embarrassing for Polish prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who has formed a ruling coalition with Maciej Giertych's party, the League of Polish Families, and who gave Mr Giertych's son, Roman, the job of education minister.

Last August the Polish PM made a big speech in Brussels, claiming he has "excellent relations" with Israel, that the notion of Polish anti-Semitism is a "myth" and that the anti-Semitic "fringe" in Polish politics is undergoing profound change.

But education minister Giertych-junior declined to distance himself from his father's ideas at a press conference in Brussels on Friday, saying it was not his place to comment, he had not read his father's book and that the quotes he had seen in the press were probably out of context.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Interview

Populists 'could be the opposition parliament needs'

Dutch historian and writer Luuk van Middelaar argues populists could be the new opposition in the next European Parliament and a better reflection of EU public opinion - thus actually reinforcing the body's status.

Timmermans calls for left-wing coalition at debate

The centre-right's Manfred Weber got most of the heat at the EU Commission presidential candidates' final debate before the European elections, while Frans Timmermans reached out to a possible coalition partners - piling more pressure on Weber's EPP.

Analysis

As candidates debate, more names surface for EU top jobs

Candidates from EU political families clash at the closely-watched debate in the European Parliament - but the elections themselves, plus lukewarm support from heads of government, could upend previous calculations.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  2. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  3. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  4. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'
  5. EU sanctions regime cannot be an 'EU Magnitsky Act'
  6. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  7. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  8. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us