The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini confirmed the determination of the Foreign ministers to continue efforts for Venezuela crisis resolution through the international contact group. Apparently, the denial of entry to four Members of the European Parliament (MEP) will not deviate from the endorsed policy vis-à-vis Caracas.
Four Members of the European parliament (MEPs) from European People’s Party (EPP) were denied entry to Venezuela under “conspiratorial motives.” The calls of the leader of the EPP group Manfred Weber to “immediately” recognise Juan Guaido as the President of Venezuela, did not receive any response from the EU foreign ministers.
Esteban Gonsalez-Pons (Spain), José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (Spain), Gabriel Mato (Spain), and Esther de Lange (NL) travelled to Caracas upon their own initiative in their individual capacity as MEPs.
The MEPs attempted to enter Caracas to meet with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, after the European Parliament last month recognized him as “interim head of state”.
Last month given the urgency of the situation in Venezuela the EU ministers decided to establish an international contact group on Venezuela (26.01.2019) that was agreed among EU Member States and with some Latin American countries.
The Foreign Minister of Spain Josep Borrell confirmed the intention to step up effort to resolve Venezuela crisis via contact group, as the EU major diplomatic tool. He also underlined that Juan Guaido is recognised an ‘interim President’ of the country.
Parliament released the first seat projections, based on a cross-section of national polls, for the composition of the next (9th) European Parliament 2019-2014.
The European Parliament has published a first set of projections on how the next chamber would look like based on national polling data taken up to the beginning of February 2019. The data is based on a selection of reliable polls conducted by national polling institutes in the Member States and aggregated by Kantar public on behalf of Parliament.
Parties are only allocated to existing political groups or where they are already affiliated to an associated European political party. All new political parties and movements, who have not yet declared their intentions are categorised as “other”.
By projecting today’s voting preferences across the EU27 onto the distribution of seats in the European Parliament after Brexit, the next hemicycle would reflect a more fragmented political landscape than ever. The next Parliament will have fewer MEPs (705) than the outgoing Parliament (751).
Country by country data for download and sharing
All data can be downloaded from the press kit as an excel file with the complete catalogue of evolving voting intention polls from all Member States. The file will give full information on the national parties, their names, political affiliation on European level, their results at the last European and national elections as well as their standing in all voting intention polls collected. The polls themselves are identified including all defining criteria such as institute, sample size and fieldwork dates.
Parliament will be publishing updated projections every two weeks until the end of April and every week during the month of May until election night itself. Initial exit polls will then be published on 26 May, for those countries that conduct them and where voting has finished, from 18.00 and every hour until provisional final results are available from all Member States.
The first direct elections to the European Parliament were held 40 years ago on 12 June 1979. This year’s elections will be the most important in Parliament’s history, given the political context, the envisaged departure of the United Kingdom and major political and cross-border challenges that need to be addressed. Voters will be going to the polls between 23 – 26 May to decide Europe’s future.
The European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has canceled a conference (18.02.2019) with participation of the Catalan president, Quim Torra, and his predecessor Carles Puigdemont, citing “security threats.”
The conference was due to take place in in Brussels on February 18, but the parliament decided to cancel it saying there was a “high risk” that the event “could pose a threat to the maintenance of public order on the parliament’s premises.“
The chamber detailed its decision in a press release: “The assessment takes into account several elements, including the recent occupation by the protesters of the European Parliament and Commission buildings in Barcelona, the tensions linked to the trial against Catalan pro-independence leaders that started on February 12, the lack of information on the participants at the event and, especially, the possibility of incidents within or around the Parliament premises.“
Apparently the ban came as a result of relentless efforts of Spain‘s three largest parties opposing Catalan independence to bloc the debate. They had sent a letter to the Speaker Antonio Tajani, urging him to prohibit the event on the grounds that Puigdemont planned to “overthrow Spain’s constitutional order.”
“Allowing Puigdemont’s presence is not compatible with the noble role of the European Parliament as an example of democracy and rule of law in force in the EU,” said MEPs from the Socialist, People’s, and Ciutadans parties.
However the ban to host a conference in the European Parliament premises is not conducive to the resolution of the Catalan issue, seen by many Catalans as an act of an ultimate betrayal of their fundamental freedoms by the EU.
Lega economy wizard Claudio Borghi said that Italy should consider leaving the European Union if the bloc does not change radically following European elections. in May.
“I think that this is the last chance. If, after the European elections, the same mandarins led by Germany are the ones driving the economic, social and migratory policies, for the sole benefit of Germany and to our detriment, I’ll say we should leave,” Borghi said.
“We either manage to change it or we’ll have to come out“. The Lega MP said the EU project was a “failure” and “toxic for Italy”. “If the environment remains toxic, I’ll say let’s get out,” Borghi warned.
“We have no intention of leaving Europe, we want to change it, improve it, but not abandon it,” Salvini said in a texted statement, clarifying his position.
Ana GOMES MEP (Portugal, S&D) raises concerns about the policy of Pedro Sanchez government, dealing with the Catalan independence issue as if it is a legal problem, instead of acknowledging its political nature. Gomes promotes dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona, breaking the deadlock through talks. She is also concerned about the methods of repressing of Catalan politicians, reminiscent of times of General Franco regime. “Yes, I have to acknowledge it, there are political prisoners in Spain“, Gomessaid. She criticises the position of the Human rights Commissioner Frans Timmermans, who prefers to ignore the existence of political prisoners in Spain. Gomes questions the freedom of press in Spain, and inquires if there is a practice of self-censorship among mass media journalists in covering Catalan issue. Among the prisoners is the former colleague of Ana Gomes – MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda appointed later the Minister for External and Institutional Relations of Catalonia.
Charles TANNOCK (UK, ECR) shares his views on a possibility of no-deal Brexit, underlining that the EU27 top negotiator Michel Barnier has no mandate to re-open the endorsed Article 50 deal. MEP also explains the need to keep the ‘backstop‘ as a part of the UK-EU deal, guaranteeing avoidance of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland. Tannock privileges a ‘soft‘ Brexit scenario, preserving economic benefits though a transition period, allowing economies to adjust to new realities. (From European Parliament Plenary, Strasbourg)
Joachim STARBATTY MEP (Germany, ECR) criticised Chancellor Merkel silence, while no-deal Brexit “catastrophe” is looming. It is impossible to leave under WTO rules, he said. “Nigel Farage is not an economist, he does not understand what he is talking about”. The deal is imperative MEP added, otherwise huge damages to economies are inevitable. “We have to talk about it“, he continued. “Our politicians are sitting on too “high horse”, STARBATTY concluded, calling them to abandon their claims of superiority, and come closer to real life.