‘Stop abusing EU Petitions Committee for your party’s benefit and resign’ Diana Riba MEP to EPP chairwoman

On Tuesday (28/02) during a public hearing of the European Parliament Petitions Committee (PETI), MEPs and staff from the Left, The Socialists, the Greens, and the European Free Alliance left the room in disgust following yet another abuse of the committee by the chairwoman Dolors Montserrat of the Spanish Partido Popular party (EPP).

Repeated abuse for political benefit

Committee chairs are supposed to act in the interests of all European citizens, especially in the Petitions committee which is a vital tool for EU citizens to influence policy. Yet Ms Montserrat has repeatedly ABUSED the committee for the political benefit of three right-wing and far-right Spanish parties (Partido Popular, Vox, and Ciudadanos).

Earlier this week the committee held a public hearing on ‘the language immersion model in Catalonia’, based on a petition submitted initially in 2017 by a sympathiser of Ms Montserrat’s PP party. The petition in question already received a decisive response from the European Commission in 2018 deeming it not to be a Europe-wide issue. However, instead of archiving it as due process recommends necessary; Ms Montserrat has sought to capitalise on this petition by bringing it to the committee on THREE separate occasions, (less than 10% of all submitted petitions make it to the committee stage at all).

Biased hearing

This most recent abuse of the PETI committee manifested itself in this public hearing with a panel of so-called experts hand-picked by Ms Montserrat, three chosen by her party and a sitting MP from the far right party VOX. None were experts in language policy and all were against Catalonia’s language immersion model. Moreover, the panel constituted a flagrant violation of the rules, as a sitting MP cannot be referred to in a hearing as an ‘expert’ whilst being in office. Yet this sitting far-right MP was presented as such.

Embattled chairwoman Montserrat has already faced strong pressure to resign during her mandate including when scores of MEPs from several groups intervened in a plenary session to accuse her of abusing her role as chair of the committee in order to benefit her own party’s campaigning in the Spanish state. The reason for the accusations being her REPEATED use of the committee to investigate Spanish issues way outside the competence of the European Parliament (40% of all petitions committee missions between 2019 and today have been to the Spanish state mainly discussing internal Spanish issues from the biased viewpoint of Ms Montserrat’s Partido Popular and occasionally featuring biased viewpoints from Vox and Ciudadanos).

Embattled committee chair Dolors Montserrat has faced numerous calls to resign over her partisan abuse of the PETI committee

Increasing pressure to resign

The pressure to resign reached a new level this week as Ms Montserrat faced an almost empty room when MEPs and staff from the European Free Alliance, the Greens, the Left, and the Socialists walked out just as the biased hearing started following a point of order by Danish Green MEP Margrete Auken. MEP Auken stood up to accuse Ms Montserrat of once again breaching the rules and procedures of the European Parliament by ABUSING the committee for party political aims, and for presiding over a ‘totally biased public hearing’. The room then cleared leaving Ms Montserrat and her biased panel speaking to scores of empty seats.

Refusing to participate in this circus

Following the walkout, EFA MEP Diana Riba said of Ms Montserrat: ‘If she had any basic respect remaining for the European Parliament, she’d resign’

The European Parliament already faces issues with public trust following the Qatargate and MoroccoGate corruption scandals, therefore making it even more urgent that the most important citizen-faced committee is freed from its shackles of being abused by Ms Montserrat for the benefit of her own political party.

The European Parliament is the house of cooperation, discussion, and fairness. Standards must be upheld and partisan abuses of the institutions must be stopped.

Read: EUObserver article ‘Why three MEPs withdrew from EP petition committee hearing’

WATCH: MEPs from Renew Europe, EPP and Greens/EFA accuse Dolors Montserrat of abusing the Petitions committee: