April 13. 2024. 6:57

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EU lawmakers won’t debate police violence in France


French left-wing delegations in the European Parliament wanted to open a debate on police violence and the “repression” of demonstrations in France, but without success, as EU lawmakers refused to address purely national issues.

In a vote on Wednesday, MEPs rejected the inclusion on the agenda of a resolution tabled by the Socialist Party, the Greens and La France Insoumise, which aimed to “condemn the serious and numerous attacks on the right to demonstrate” that have happened in France since President Emmanuel Macron pushed through his pension reform without a vote in parliament.

France must “respect the right to demonstrate and the rule of law”, according to the resolution that criticises the “disproportionate use of force” and “dangerous repressive practices” by police during protests.

A “thumb torn off”, a “railway worker with an eye socket”, a woman “raped during a search”, and two environmental activists who protested the mega-basins project in Sainte-Soline in a coma: this was the list of incidents La France Insoumise MEP Manon Aubry presented to justify her group’s request to discuss police violence in the EU hemicycle.

These “police violence” are a “terrible spectacle” and “unacceptable practices within the European Union”, Aubry also said.

But other parliamentary groups refused to have the French debate on policing creep into the EU institution. French conservative MEP François-Xavier Bellamy (Les Républicains, EPP), who recalled that “more than 800 police officers have been seriously injured” in recent weeks in France, suggested that the European Parliament should not “replace” the French justice system.

On the side of Renew – the European Parliament group of French President Emmanuel Macron – Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt said the matter should be “debated in the French National Assembly”.

“If there are exaggerated police responses”, they should be “denounced and condemned”, said Verhofstadt. However, “it is naturally a reaction to other violence […] sometimes encouraged by political parties”, he said, addressing the LFI MEP Manon Aubry, denouncing those who say “the most important thing is the popular censure, not the parliamentary majority”.

He also criticised Aubry for not condemning the violence committed by demonstrators and the threats and the intimidation of parliamentarians in favour of the reform.

A few minutes later, the leader of the European right regretted this type of request for debate: “the European Parliament cannot continue like this, we have to focus on European issues”, he said, referring to the statements of the presidents of the Socialist group, Iratxe García, and the Renew group, Stéphane Séjourné, who in the past weeks have repeatedly expressed the same wish.

(Davide Basso | EURACTIV.fr)