In an interview with the Italian medium Rai News in the context of the rejected Italian state budget, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, made the following statement:
„The citizenship income will end up in the pockets of Roma, of foreign citizens — from the EU and non-EU — and certainly not in those of many Italian citizens.” (as in Politico’s Playbook of today)
MEP Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the Greens/EFA group, asked President Tajani personally at 12 noon today in plenary as a point of order, whether Tajani had actually said so. Mr Tajani replied he felt misunderstood and only intended to say that the money would end up with people who do not work. Tajani did not apologise for his words.
MEP Romeo Franz, person in charge of Sinti and Roma of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, declares:
„I am very disappointed that President Tajani sinks to the level of right-wing populists. His statement suggests that he does not regard Roma as citizens. Mr Tajani is wrong: Many Roma and Sinti have lived in Italy for centuries, have Italian citizenship and pay taxes in Italy.
„Mr Tajani should focus on his duties as President of the European Parliament. The stigmatisation within his statement contributes to further division of society. Such incendiary statements are unfortunately exemplary of racism and antiziganism in Europe. He clearly uses a widespread cliché: the prejudice of the illegally enriching Roma. I would have expected this from an extreme right-wing politician, but not from the President of the European Parliament. This racist statement is unworthy of his office.
„I therefore call for a public apology and correction from Mr Tajani‘.
MEP Sven Giegold, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions, adds:
„Denying Roma citizen rights is a violation of the European Parliament’s rules of procedure, which Tajani’s has to defend as President. It is disappointing that the President has not used the Green’s question in plenary to apologise. The President is the judge on whether the rules of procedure have been violated. President Tajani must not acquit himself.”
Background: Roma people have lived on Italian soil since at least the 15th century. See, for example, „The Roma in Romanian History“ by Viorel Achim (https://books.openedition.org/ceup/1549)
Rule 11 : Members‘ financial interests and standards of conduct of Parliament’s rules of procedure
1. Parliament shall lay down rules governing the transparency of its Members‘ financial interests in the form of a Code of Conduct which shall be adopted by a majority of its component Members and attached to these Rules of Procedure as an annex(1).
Those rules shall not otherwise prejudice or restrict Members in the exercise of their office or of any related political or other activity.
2. Members should adopt the systematic practice of only meeting interest representatives that have registered in the Transparency Register established by means of the Agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission on the transparency register(2).
3. The conduct of Members shall be characterised by mutual respect, be based on the values and principles laid down in the Treaties, and particularly in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and shall respect the dignity of Parliament. Furthermore, it shall not compromise the smooth conduct of parliamentary business, the maintenance of security and order on Parliament’s premises or the functioning of Parliament’s equipment.
In parliamentary debates, Members shall not resort to defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behaviour, nor shall they unfurl banners.
Members shall comply with Parliament’s rules on the treatment of confidential information.
Failure to comply with those standards and rules may lead to the application of measures in accordance with Rules 165, 166 and 167.
4. The application of this Rule shall not otherwise detract from the liveliness of parliamentary debates, nor shall it undermine Members‘ freedom of speech.
It shall be based on full respect for Members’ prerogatives, as laid down in Union primary law and the Statute for Members.
It shall be based on the principle of transparency and be so undertaken that the relevant provisions are made clear to Members, who shall be informed individually of their rights and obligations.
5. Where a person employed by a Member, or another person for whom the Member has arranged access to Parliament’s premises or equipment, fails to comply with the standards of conduct set out in paragraph 3, the penalties provided for in Rule 166 may, where appropriate, be imposed upon the Member concerned.
6. The Quaestors shall determine the maximum number of assistants who may be registered by each Member.
7. The code of conduct and the rights and privileges of former Members shall be laid down by a decision of the Bureau. No distinction shall be made in the treatment of former Members.