Italy’s far right took advantage of the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg to flex its muscles during a press conference last week. This was contrary to the regulations of the institution and was not generally appreciated. EURACTIV.fr reports
If you want something done right, then you are better off doing it yourself. This is what the Italian Northern League appears to have attempted in the European Parliament last week (15 March).
For fear of addressing an unenthusiastic – or even hostile – press, the Italian MEP Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right Northern League party which came out of the recent elections in Italy with 17% of votes, decided to take matters into his own hands.
During a press conference in Strasbourg, members of Salvini’s cabinet and parliamentary assistants of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group applauded recurrently following his statements. An unusual practice, which is considered undemocratic by European media representatives and is actually banned by the European Parliament.
But the mood turned sour during a conference with Nicolas Bay of the French National Front and Harald Vilimsky, an Austrian MEP. Journalists took it upon themselves to remind the Italian MEP of the Parliament’s rules banning such shows of support.
Salvini responded by inviting journalists who did not appreciate the applause to leave the room, accusing them of having a left-wing bias.
According to article 7 of the regulations on the press in the European Parliament, it is forbidden to express any agreement or disagreement in any form during press conferences.
Tajani refuses to intervene
According to an internal e-mail seen by EURACTIV, the Parliament’s director-general for communications noted that a journalist had faced threats by a person close to Salvini during the media event.
Following the incident, the ENF’s head of press ensured that such behaviour would not happen again. This did not stop some journalists sending an official letter of complaint to President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.
“In the current delicate political situation, we recommend not taking any further action which would give Mr Salvini more publicity,” the DG for communication responded in its internal message.