Pro-EU parties shut out Farage’s EFDD from committees

UKIP's Nigel Farage said that the Spanish government will have to offer something "very impressive" to stop the momentum of the Catalan separatists. [European Parliament]

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage this evening (7 July) blasted the three main pro-European parties for blocking his Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy MEPs from influential positions in European Parliament committees.

At time of going to press (7 July), it appeared that the European People’s Party, the Socialists and Democrats and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe had teamed up to prevent the posts going to the EFDD.  

After a secret ballot this evening, they rejected Italian EFDD MEP Eleanora Evi as chairman of Committee on Petitions, 23 votes to eight, instead electing Swedish Liberal Cecilia Wikström.

They also blocked Evi, from Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, from a vice-chairmanship. She said the move was “anti-democratic and immoral”.

EFDD sources said they had also been blocked from influential posts in the agricultural committee, which they blamed on the stitch-up between the three groups. The EFDD currently has no chairmanships or vice chairmanships in any committee.

Farage said, “The federalist fanatics have shown their true anti – democratic colours. They hate scrutiny and opposition and therefore hate the EFDD group with a passion – which I suppose, should make us proud.

“The Europhile groups have again demonstrated their fear of democracy, their hatred of minority views, and their clear rejection of transparency. EU federalists are a disgrace but the public should realise their views and their dirty dealing are emblematic of the European Parliament.”

Parliament committees today elected their chairpersons and vice-chairpersons. Under the D’Hondt system of appointment, committee posts are distributed among the political parties proportionate to their number of elected MEPs. 

The system is seen as a fair way of distributing key posts. While it is not against EU Parliament rules to block such appointments, it is unusual and a breach of protocol.

The European Greens last week took the unusual decision to support the EFDD after rumours of the coup emerged. They said stopping Evi’s appointment would be undemocratic and that she had all the necessary qualifications to head the Parliament’s petitions department.

“Excluding any political group from a committee chairmanship to which it is due under the established system for fairly distributing these posts would be a blow to the democratic process in the EU Parliament,” said Margrete Auken, the Greens spokesperson on the committee.

>> Read: Greens back Farage in row over EU Parliament chairs

The appointment of committee chairs follows the D'Hondt system - named after the Belgian mathematician who designed the method - which allocates positions on the basis of political groups' size.

However, the precise allocation of seats may shift until the last minute, as political horse-trading continues between the main political groups.

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