Concerns raised over Parliament’s use of ‘remote’ participation in committee debate

Repeated technical hiccups interrupted a committee discussion on women’s rights on Monday.
Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

25 May 2020

MEPs have been given the chance to take part in debates “remotely” from their own homes since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and the system has been used to allow Parliament’s committee meetings to continue as usual.

On Monday, Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality, appeared - via a video link - in the debate organised by the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality.

However, her participation was cut short due to a series of “technical issues” during the hour-long dialogue.


RELATED CONTENT


The start of the debate was interrupted because of a problem with the interpretation and other problems followed afterwards.

“This is not the ideal way to hold meetings. The technical difficulties we have experienced have eaten up some of the time allocated for the discussion” Helena Dalli, European Commissioner

Dalli said, “This is not the ideal way to hold meetings. The technical difficulties we have experienced have eaten up some of the time allocated for the discussion.”

She added, “I look forward to being able to have a physical meeting again soon.”

Dalli should have faced at least two rounds of questions but, in the end, only had time for one round before the meeting was closed.

Her comments were partly echoed by committee chair Austrian MEP Evelyn Regner, who described it as “not fun.”

“I very much regret that the long list of excellent speakers did not have a chance to raise their issues because of the technical issues we have had” Evelyn Regner MEP

She said, “This has been a very short exchange with the Commissioner and I very much regret that the long list of excellent speakers did not have a chance to raise their issues because of the technical issues we have had.”

A Parliament spokesman told this website, “The system is working well and allows for remote meetings with interpretation embedded in eight languages. Parliament is the sole public institution to have such a system in place.”

“Regarding the FEMM meeting today, indeed, there were some short suspensions as Commissioner Dalli couldn't hear interpretation for a while and assistance of the Commission IT team was required. It finally worked.”

Read the most recent articles written by Martin Banks - European Parliament’s new IMCO chair told she has ‘big shoes to fill’

Share this page