EU Parliament president sidelined in coronavirus talks

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have excluded European Parliament President David Sassoli from talks on the EU response to the coronavirus crisis, El Pais reported.

“The main community leaders held a second videoconference on the coronavirus crisis on Monday (6 April) with the notable absence of the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli,” the Spanish daily reported.

“The leader of the only institution chosen by universal suffrage has been deliberately excluded once again from the forum in charge of preparing the roadmap for a comprehensive recovery plan […] Germany and the Netherlands lead the exclusion of Sassoli,” the newspaper added.

EU Parliament sources confirmed to EURACTIV.com that although Sassoli holds daily teleconferences with Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, he does not take part in videoconferences.

The same sources said it was “bizarre” considering that the EU House is a key EU institution.

At the last EU Council, EU leaders asked the four presidents representing the Commission, Eurogroup, European Central Bank and EU Council to present informal proposals for a recovery plan. In normal circumstances, the discussion should be led by the five presidents, including Sassoli.

However, Spanish media reported last week that Merkel blocked the Italian’s participation amid fears that he would push for coronabonds, an option that Berlin fiercely opposes.

“The European Parliament represents the will of the citizens and therefore deserves maximum respect. Its President must not only be heard but also participate in decision-making. We are not going to allow any Prime Minister or Chancellor to silence our voice,” Iratxe Garcia, the President of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament tweeted last night.

Europe’s north-south clash over coronabonds is not only reflected at country level but also in the EU institutions.

Sassoli together with Portuguese Eurogroup chief Mario Centeno, French Commissioner Thierry Breton (internal market) and Italian Paolo Gentiloni (economy) back the coronabond option.

On the other hand, German EU Commission chief von der Leyen and European Stability Mechanism managing director Klaus Regling are against the idea.

(Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com]

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