Senior MEP questions viability of parliamentary debates on EU presidencies

Written by Martin Banks on 16 January 2018 in News

Belgian deputy Philippe Lamberts says debates are just 'occasions to sing the praises of a country’s success' .

The European Parliament in Strasbourg | Photo Credit: EP Audiovisual

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Philippe Lamberts said such debates were often merely an occasion to sing the praises of a country’s success at the helm of the EU.

He was speaking at a news conference in Strasbourg on Tuesday shortly after a debate had been held in parliament’s chamber on the Estonian presidency of the EU which came to a conclusion at the end of December.

The debate took place in front of a near empty plenary, despite two EU leaders, European council president Donald Tusk and his commission counterpart, Jean-Claude Juncker, being present.

Debates on EU presidencies which have just ended have become a traditional part of the Strasbourg plenary.


But when asked why he thought so few MEPs had bothered to turn up for the debate, which also covered December’s EU summit in Brussels, the Belgian MEP said, “It is not rocket science to see why. These debates are not the most breath-taking or fascinating discussions you can have.

“You have got to ask if it makes sense to continue to have such debates which are essentially an exercise I just looking back at the successes of a presidency.”

“You have got to ask if it makes sense to continue to have such debates which are essentially an exercise I just looking back at the successes of a presidency”

Meanwhile, in the debate Tusk pointed out that he had proposed to EU leaders a new working method with the intention to speed up decision-making in the Council and to “confront quite deliberately the tough issues in the areas where we are deadlocked.”

Tusk said, “December was the first real test of this. We made a good start with frank, open and constructive discussions on migration and EMU. In addition, we took concrete decisions on Brexit, defence and the further extension of sanctions against Russia. I am proud to note that Europeans have stood united together with the Ukrainian people against Russian aggression for 3 and a half years and we will stay the course.

“On migration. member states responded well and generously to our request to re-finance the North African window of the EU-Africa Trust Fund. I would like to thank those governments who made it possible.”

He added, “But irregular migration will remain a challenge for decades, not years, and therefore we need a structural solution in the form of a stable and predictable EU funding instrument. I proposed to the leaders that we establish a permanent financing mechanism within the next Multiannual Financial Framework, to stem the flows of illegal migration.”

He told what few MEPs were present that there was “univocal” agreement on the need to establish such a mechanism.

“We will discuss it in more detail at our summit in February.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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