EU parliament blocks rule of law resolution on Greece, Spain to avoid interfering in elections


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S&D initiated the resolution by tabling a debate about Greece and Malta as part of a wider debate on the Commission’s 2022 rule of law report. In response, the EPP requested a debate on socialist-governed Spain to be included too.  [Shutterstock/Yavdat]

A resolution on the rule of law in Spain, Greece, and Malta has been postponed by the Parliaments’ top decision-making body comprised of political groups’ chiefs to avoid interfering in the upcoming Spanish and Greek elections, key for the socialists (S&D) and the centre-right (EPP), triggering a blame game between the political groups.

The resolution was withdrawn from the plenary agenda on 13 April during a closed-door meeting of the Conference of Presidents (CoP), comprised of the political groups’ chiefs who decide on Parliament’s business and legislative planning.

The resolution was set to be voted upon in the April plenary after it was included in the agenda during a debate on the rule of law in Spain, Malta, and Greece between MEPs and Commission Vice President Věra Jourová on 30 March.

S&D initiated the resolution by discussing Greece as part of a broader debate on the Commission’s 2022 rule of law report. In response, the EPP requested a discussion on socialist-governed Spain and Malta to be included too.

After initiating the debates on the rule of law, both S&D and EPP got cold feet and blocked the resolution from this week’s plenary in the CoP, now postponed with no fixed date, spokespersons from S&D and EPP confirmed to EURACTIV.

S&D and EPP: Preventing interference in elections

The postponement aims to prevent a rule of law debate and resolution from affecting key elections in Greece and Spain, set to occur in May and December.

“There has been an agreement to freeze any kind of resolution, mission or hearing targeting a particular country in the weeks leading up to an election”, an EPP spokesperson told EURACTIV.

Along the same lines, a spokesperson from S&D said that the decision was taken “to prevent the European Parliament from becoming a forum for discussion of national issues, which undermines the credibility of the institution”.

“It is quite common for the Conference of Presidents to postpone debates that could interfere with member states’ internal elections”, Jacques Delors Institute Vice-President Christine Verger told EURACTIV, and added that “if it [rule of law resolution] is critical of the Spanish and Greek government, I see how it could impact the elections”.

And truth is both S&D and EPP have a lot at stake.

In Spain, regional and municipal elections will occur on 28 May, and national elections are scheduled for December. Recent national election polls show that Partido Popular (EPP) is at the top with 31.5%, followed by governing party PSOE (S&D) at 25.8%.

In Greece, national elections are scheduled on 21 May, and EPP’s governing New Democracy party faces a neck-and-neck race with leftist Syriza after a series of scandals in the past months involving the government’s involvement in wiretapping and negligence in a train-wreck accident.

LEAK: Rule of law, press freedom face ‘very serious threats’ in Greece, report says

There are serious concerns about Greece’s democratic credentials, with threats to the rule of law, harassment of officials of independent public bodies, and widespread intimidation of journalists, according to a leaked draft mission report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Blame game

It remains unclear, though, what the other political group’s stance has been, as CoP meetings are not public.

On the one hand, spokespersons from S&D and EPP affirm Renew Europe helped reach the majority needed in the CoP to postpone the resolution. On the other hand, a spokesperson from Renew Europe says it was The Left chipping in to achieve the majority.

Asked by EURACTIV, a spokesperson from The Left said that no political group opposed the postponement, while a spokesperson from the Greens/EFA affirms they did.

“It’s sad that the largest political groups are playing politics with an issue as serious as the rule of law. We need systematic monitoring of the rule of law across all Member States, and the Parliament should lead the way on standing up for the rule of law”, Greens/EFA MEP Daniel Freund told EURACTIV regarding the postponement of the resolution.

ID and ECR did not respond to a request for comment.

(Max Griera |

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