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29th Mar 2020

EU parliament chief considering action against British MEP

  • Mr Buzek. The case is testing boundaries in the EU parliament (Photo: European Parliament)

EU parliament President Jerzy Buzek is considering disciplinary action against a British MEP who launched a verbal attack on EU council President Herman Van Rompuy.

Mr Buzek has, via email, summoned the British eurosceptic deputy, Nigel Farage, to discuss the incident in his office at 13.45 Brussels time on Tuesday (2 March).

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"The president is currently exploring which measures are the most appropriate to deal with this issue," Mr Buzek's spokeswoman, Inga Rosinska, told EUobserver.

"He would like to see vivid political debate but he will not tolerate that this chamber is disrespected, that people in it are personally insulted or comments about anyone's personal appearance," she added.

Ms Rosinska's statement echoed the language of the parliament's rules of procedure, which say that: "Members' conduct shall be characterised by mutual respect ...[and] respect the dignity of parliament."

In "exceptionally serious" cases an MEP could face an official reprimand, a small fine, a few days' suspension of voting rights or removal from an official parliamentary function, such as membership of a committee.

Gawain Towler, a spokesman for Mr Farage's political faction, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, said the Farage side was "surprised" by the severity of the backlash.

He said Mr Farage's remarks would be considered normal by the standards of the British House of Commons. "So he was a little bit rude - this is politics, get over it," he said. "The insults thrown around in the House of Commons are much more vicious."

Mr Farage during a plenary debate in the EU capital on Wednesday said Mr Van Rompuy has the charisma of a "damp rag" and looks like a "low-grade bank clerk." He also called him a "quiet assassin" of democracy and said that his native Belgium is a "non-country."

The feeling among parliamentary officials is that he crossed the line of good taste. But it would have been better if Mr Buzek, who chaired the debate, had simply switched off his microphone.

"I think I'm now public enemy number 1!" Mr Farage commented on his Twitter account on Thursday as he was leaving Brussels.

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