Tag Archives: EPPlenary

Orban withdraws support to Weber for top EU job

The leader of Germany’s conservatives made clear she expected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party would quit Europe’s main center-right group –European People’s Party (EPP) – after he withdrew support for Manfred Weber (pictured) – the bloc’s candidate to head the European Commission.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, signaled that the anti-immigrant, hard-right Orban had crossed a river.

With his behavior in the last few days and the meeting with (Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini), he has given a clear sign that he will leave,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer. At present Fidesz is suspended from EPP as a result of disagreement on various policies.

Weber would have been good for us as president of the commission,” Orban said, “but he made the statement that not only does he not need the Hungarian votes but he doesn’t even want the Hungarian votes to become commission president.”

In March Weber told German broadcaster ZDF that he “would not accept the post” of Commission president if he had to depend on votes from Fidesz, Orban‘s party.

That is such an offense to Hungary and the Hungarian voters,Orban added.

Orban said he could no longer support Manfred Weber after he “insulted” Hungarians.

 

Western Balkans in MEPs focus

The EU’s new Western Balkans strategy will be unveiled by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at 16.00, followed by a debate.

Efforts to integrate the region into the EU are traditionally supported by the European Parliament, which nonetheless highlights shortcomings in the rule of law, fundamental rights or the fight against corruption there.

Bulgaria, in charing the EU rotating presidency for the first half of 2018 has made Western Balkans joining the EU as priority and is organising a top-level summit in Sofia in May.

 

Meanwhile the European Commission is this month publishing its Enlargement Strategy Paper and is citing 2025 as an indicative joining date for Serbia and Montenegro. It will discuss the strategy with MEPs during the February plenary in Strasbourg.

 

Whistleblower protection in EU

EU rules are needed to better protect and support whistleblowers and their role in revealing serious breaches of the public interest, such as corruption, miscarriages of justice, tax avoidance, lack of protection for food safety or the environment and attacks on social, human or workers’ rights, say MEPs during Strasbourg Plenary debate. The issue came in picture after an assassination of Maltese journalist #

Whistleblower protection in the EU is patchy and often inadequate, say MEPs. They call on the EU Commission to propose EU-wide rules before the end of this year.

They also argue that all EU countries should introduce: reporting mechanismsto facilitate internal whistle-blowing and allow whistle-blowers to report to NGOs or the press, including the possibility of anonymous reporting; protection against retaliation, including sanctions against those attempting to prevent whistle-blowers from speaking out and measures to discourage the retaliatory actions; supporting measures, such as legal and financial aid, psychological support and compensation for damage suffered by whistle-blowers in the event of civil proceedings; national independent bodies, responsible for reports, verifying their credibility and guiding whistle-blowers and an EU level authority, to facilitate coordination in cross-border cases.

The non-legislative resolution was passed by 399 votes to 101, with 166 abstentions.

Rapporteur  Virginie Rozière (S&D, FR),  said “Luxleaks, Panama Papers, Monsanto Papers… Thanks to whistle-blowers, who raise collective awareness about serious encroachments on the public interest, our democratic rules have been improved. Despite their irreplaceable support for press freedom and democratic debate, they still fall prey to severe reprisals.”

“With this resolution, we call for rules to be established to protect whistle-blowers and their rights to directly inform citizens”, she continued.