Lindh offers ‘olive branch’ to Parliament

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Series Details Vol.7, No.20, 17.5.01, p3
Publication Date 17/05/2001
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Date: 17/05/01

By John Shelley

SWEDISH Foreign Minister Anna Lindh has met leading MEPs to try and resolve a simmering feud over how often the presidency attends Parliamentary meetings.

MEPs had complained that presidency ministers failed to visit the Parliament often enough - an indication that member states were not taking their work seriously.

At a meeting yesterday (16 May), Lindh offered an olive branch to the assembly's political group leaders. She told them that while the presidency presence should be increased, both sides should "focus on quality rather than on quantity".

"The role of the European Parliament has evolved considerably during the last decades, the Council fully recognises this, and maintains an open attitude to the issue of presence in the plenary," she said in a letter to president Nicole Fontaine, ahead of the meeting.

"However, there are obvious constraints to the need for the presence at ministerial level. Not all debates in the Parliament are of a nature to make Council presence necessary or even desirable."

Lindh's suggestions met with a mixed reception. Liberal leader Pat Cox took her to task, saying the presidency should work on "improving the quantity of the quality".

The Parliament and presidency did agree in principle to a suggestion, put forward by European People's Party group leader Hans-Gert Pöttering, to set up a working group which would gather in advance of MEPs' meetings to discuss which debates demanded the presence of a minister.

Under current practices the member states, through the presidency, only regularly attend the Parliament during Wednesdays of Strasbourg sessions and Wednesday afternoons of those held in Brussels.

Swedish Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, has met leading MEPs to try and resolve a simmering feud over how often presidency attends Parliamentary meetings.

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