Keyword: European Parliament

Macron seething as MEPs reject France's EU commission candidate

Members of the European Parliament have voted overwhelmingly to reject France's candidate for a top post at the European Commission amid doubts over the probity of Sylvie Goulard, implicated in an investigation into ghost jobs at the parliament and her links with a US think-tank, prompting Emmanuel Macron to denounce 'petty' political manoeuvring.

European elections: how they work and what's at stake

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MEPs at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 2019.  © Reuters/Vincent Kessler MEPs at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 2019. © Reuters/Vincent Kessler

The results of this month’s European Parliament elections, which in France and 21 other countries are to be held today, will be a key test of political parties across the continent, where anti-EU, nationalist and populist groups have been gaining ground on traditional parties. For French President Emmanuel Macron, whose LREM party, strongly pro-EU, is fighting European elections for the first time, the outcome on Sunday will also be a test of the credibility of his ambitions for the bloc. But the polling also lifts the curtain on a series of new appointments to lead the EU’s major institutions, which will hang on the results. Ludovic Lamant presents a guide to how the elections work, and the detail of what’s at stake.    

How France's far-right RN party plans enriching its supporters out of public funds

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Far-right Rassemblement National party leader Marine Le Pen. © Reuters Far-right Rassemblement National party leader Marine Le Pen. © Reuters

To fund its campaign for this month’s European Parliament elections, the French far-right Rassemblement National party (the renamed Front National) has raised around 4 million euros through so-called “patriotic” loans from its members and supporters, to who it has promised a 5% interest rate. The party will submit the amounts raised, with interest, in its application for a post-election refund of campaign spending that is granted to parties and paid out of the public purse. The generous interest payments paid to its lending members and supporters will cost the taxpayer around 200,000 euros, and the party says it plans employing the same strategy in future elections. Marine Turchi reports.

Macron party and far-right lead in European elections surveys

Opinion polls are giving France's far-right Rassemblement National party (the former Front National) a short lead over President Emmanuel Macron's LREM party in the run-up to European Parliament (EP) elections on May 26th, while both are way ahead of the 31 other party lists, which are the most ever seen in EP elections in France.

France's 'yellow vests' to field candidates in European elections

Following two months of nationwide protests as a loosely formed movement communicating mostly on social media, the so-called 'yellow vests', made up of low- and middle-income earners angry at falling living standards and against the political and social elite, have formed a group to field candidates for this spring's elections for the European Parliament.

Far-right MEPs nominate Afrikaner militants for prestigious Sakharov Prize

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Members of the European Parliament’s ENF group, a pan-European alliance of parliamentarians from far- and hard-right parties, and mostly made up of France’s Rassemblement National, have nominated a South African organisation championing the landowning interests of the country’s white Afrikaner farmers for the assembly’s prestigious yearly Sakharov Prize, Mediapart can reveal. The move follows increasing lobbying for the Afrikaner activists by far-right groups and commentators who claim the existence of a “white genocide” in South Africa. Mediapart Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.

The MEPs earning millions of euros from jobs on the side

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European Parliament members attending a plenary session in Strasbourg in July 2018. © Vincent Kessler / Reuters. European Parliament members attending a plenary session in Strasbourg in July 2018. © Vincent Kessler / Reuters.

Almost a third of the 751 Members the European Parliament (MEPs) have earned a combined total of up to 41 million euros from outside activities over the four years since the current legislature was elected in 2014, according to a report published this week by anti-corruption organisation Transparency International. The numbers of MEPs remunerated for outside activities – which include working for private companies, lobbyists and investment funds – has risen dramatically since 2014, reveals the NGO which highlights a limp and ill-enforced code of ethics that allows numerous potential conflicts of interest among the lawmakers who are among the continent’s highest-paid elected representatives. Mediapart Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.

Juncker and MEPs face off in cronyism row over choice of Europe’s top civil servant

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Martin Selmayr (right) with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at the European parliament on March 13th. © Reuters/Vincent Kessler Martin Selmayr (right) with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at the European parliament on March 13th. © Reuters/Vincent Kessler

The highly questionable circumstances of the appointment of German conservative Martin Selmayr as secretary-general of the European Commission, a move initiated by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for whom Selmayr until then served as chief of staff, has been met with outrage within the European Parliament, which on Wednesday adopted a motion describing the promotion as “coup-like” and “which possibly even overstretched the limits of the law”. But it pulled back from demanding Selmayr’s resignation, thereby avoiding a serious institutional crisis. Meanwhile, the commission, accused of blatant cronyism, has refused to compromise and insists Europe’s new top civil servant will remain in the post. Mediapart Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.    

 

Macron slams 'illiberal' slide of nationalism in EU countries

In a loudly applauded speech before the European Parliament on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned against the spread of nationalist politics among some EU member states, slamming 'a fascination with the illiberal' and insisting that democracy 'is a word with meaning, which emerged from the battles of the past'.

Front National and EU allies face €427,000 bill over 'non-compliant' expenses

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The Front National's Marine Le Pen and her European allies at Koblenz in Germany, January 21st, 2017. © Reuters The Front National's Marine Le Pen and her European allies at Koblenz in Germany, January 21st, 2017. © Reuters

The European Parliament is poised to launch proceedings to reclaim “non-compliant” expenses from the far-right parliamentary grouping that includes France's Front National, Mediapart has learnt. The total amount of the expenses involved, which include “unreasonable” claims of meals costing 400 euros a person, and the purchase of 228 bottles of champagne as gifts, comes to 427,000 euros. Ludovic Lamant and Marine Turchi report.

Macron to push for pan-EU parliament lists despite setback

French president's statement came after MEPs rejected a proposal for pan-EU lists of candidates for seats in the European Parliament.

Front National placed under investigation in EU 'fake jobs' case

France's far-right Front National party has been placed under investigation by Paris magistrates over suspicion it fraudulently placed France-based staff on the European Parliament payroll as assistants to its sitting MEPs. 

French prosecutors ask EU to lift Le Pen immunity

Prosecutors leading an investigation into far-right Front National party leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's involvement in a suspected 'fake jobs' scandal at the European Parliament have asked the institution to lift her parliamentary immunity from questioning and prosecution.

Le Pen refuses to be questioned over 'fake jobs' probe before elections

French far-right Front National party leader and presidential election frontrunner Marine Le Pen, implicated in an alleged scam to pay party workers with European Parliament funds, said she will not attend a French magistrate's summons for questioning over the affair before the end of the elections in May.

Net tightens around French far-right leader Le Pen in EU 'fake jobs' probe

The chief of staff and senior bodyguard of France's far-right Front National party leader and presidential election candidate Marine Le Pen were on Wednesday questioned in police custody as part of an investigation into alleged fraudulent payments made to them by Le Pen out of European Parliament funds dedicated to remunerating parliamentary assistants. Le Pen's chief of staff, Catherine Griset, was later placed under formal investigation. The case, which mirrors the scandal surrounding conservative presidential candidate François Fillon, now threatens to become more than a severe embarrassment to Le Pen, one of the frontrunners in the election, whose campaign hinges on her image as an anti-establishment alternative to a corrupt political class.