February 1, 2007 at 4:45 pm #52591
British and Spanish Conservatives play politics with ‘Spanish Land grab’ scandal – Cashman
Tories plot to delay European Parliament fact finding mission
Michael Cashman MEP, Labour’s First Vice President of the European Parliament’s Petitions committee, has labelled the partisan behaviour of the Conservative European People’s Party (EPP) in a meeting in Brussels this morning as “scandalous”.
During the meeting, which sought to finalise the details of the fact finding mission to Valencia and elsewhere in Spain following persistent and on-going concerns that regional laws in Spain violate EU law, EPP Members present, lead by a British Conservative MEP and a Conservative Spanish Member of Partido Popular (PP), proposed delaying the mission until after the elections at the end of May.
They even went as far as saying if the mission does go ahead any time before the May elections, the EPP will boycott the mission. This is despite the fact that the official election period in Spain does not officially kick off until the start of May (21 days), well after the proposed visit.
Speaking out in defence of those British citizens affected during the meeting Michael Cashman re-iterated his personal view and the clear position of his political group:
“On behalf of the Labour Party and the Socialist group, I wish to record our support for this mission to go ahead as provisionally planned at the end of February. It is the democratic responsibility of this Parliament and this committee to follow up on the work we have done in this field, especially given that the problems remain unsolved and that there are thousands of horrific cases of abuse which we have heard of and continue to hear of on a daily basis.”
Other Members of the Petitions Committee who were present expressed similar reactions to the EPP’s ploy which clearly seems to be being pushed by the Spanish PP Members. One Member said he was “scandalised” by the tactics whilst another Member said “using elections as an excuse to delay or block missions would set a dangerous precedent -something I am against”.
After the meeting Michael said:
“The Tories request to delay because of the elections is playing politics with peoples lives and totally unacceptable. It seems clear to me that the Spanish Conservatives are putting real pressure on the EPP because they realise they have something to hide. The British Conservative delegation and the Spanish PP delegation must explain to their citizens and voters exactly why they are playing politics with peoples lives.
“The Labour Party and the Socialist group are committed to doing all we can to resolve the problems in Spain and ensure the abuses stop and EU law is respected. That is what we’re elected to do and that is what I am doing in my capacity as First Vice President of the Petitions committee. For the Socialist group, party politics doesn’t come into it – All we want is a resolution of these problems in Spain.”
The Co-ordinators meeting brings together representatives from each political group which act like an executive body and attempts to agree a consensual position on issues pertaining to the committees functioning.
In this case no agreement was reached – all groups present (except the EPP) were in favour of the mission taking place at the end of February.
The Committee approved at its meeting on 28th November 2006 the request for authorisation for a fact finding mission.
The Committee Chair wrote to the then President of the EP (Josep Borrell, PES) asking for authorisation for the mission on 22nd December 2006. Despite contact with the cabinet of the new Conservative President of the Parliament (Hans-Gert Poettering, EPP) earlier in January requesting confirmation of authorisation for the mission, following approval by the Committee, there has been no reply from the President.
For further information please contact Michael Cashman on +32 477 625 375 or +44 797 336 2811 or the European Parliamentary Labour Party press officer, Matt Patterson on +32 479 790 0532.
Socialist Group in the European Parliament
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