Friday, March 31

PP, Vox and Cs twist the regulations of the European Parliament to win a vote on minors protected by the Valencian Generalitat

Since I don’t like what comes out, we vote differently. This is what the president of the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament, Dolors Montserrat, must have thought, when this Thursday afternoon she saw that a petition that she presented, neither more nor less, than the spokeswoman of her party, the PP, in les Corts, Elena Bastidas, along with a lawyer also related to the PP, Ana María Gil.

Socialists, Greens and The Left denounce before the president of the European Parliament the “partisan use” by Dolors Montserrat of the Petitions Commission

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But, of course, the European Commission had said that the issue, on minors under guardianship in the Valencian Community, was not the competence of the Union. And, in addition, the coordinator of Renew, Yana Toom, had distanced herself from her fellow rank-and-file, Jordi Cañas, from Ciudadanos. And there was a tie. Because Socialists, Greens, The Left and Non-Inscribed, adhered to the manual: a request on an issue that exceeds the scope of the Union, should not be kept open, especially when the matter is judicialized in Spain, even with sentences.

And what has happened? That the formula of the weighted vote, always used by Dolors Montserrat, by which the representative of a political group is the repository of the entire correlation of forces of the commission, no longer served her at 6:15 in the afternoon. Why? Because Renew was divided, between Toom and Cañas, and the ID ultras were missing – the Lega group and Le Pen. And what has Montserrat decided? Improvise a formula that suited him: let those present vote. Suddenly. Let those present vote and, of course, at that moment, there were more deputies from the right because, coincidentally, MEPs have suddenly entered until reaching a quorum of 9, because the rest of the groups have left the room in protest at the decision to Montserrat.

A Montserrat, moreover, that had an alternative proposed by the vice president of the Greens and MEP of En Comú Podem, Ernest Urtasun, seconded by socialists and La Izquierda: that, since there was a tie, the matter would be left for a meeting of coordinators where You end up deciding what to do.

But the popular have refused, Montserrat has read the regulations, has understood that she could change the way of voting that she had been using all day – and the entire legislature – and has even voted herself. Result? 9-0 in favor of PP, Vox and Ciudadanos, who have been left alone in the room.

Bastidas herself has finished her final speech with an eloquent statement that showed what the session was about: “We don’t want any more Oltras”.

The debate, previous, for the rest, has been a pim pam pum in which in a commission designed to give citizens a voice, while the parties already have their channels, the PP has resorted to its spokesman in the Valencian parliament to make opposition in Brussels to the Government of the Generalitat and continue talking about Mónica Oltra, already resigned after being summoned as investigated by the courts.

Ana María Gil, who has presented herself as a Valencian lawyer, has called for “a European standard that protects minors in care in cases of sexual abuse. With an independent and uniform control of regulatory compliance. It is a task for this Parliament, for the Union, for the regions and for all citizens”.

Bastidas, for his part, has been tougher with the Valencian government, whom he has accused of refusing to assume “its responsibility. A government that a coalition between PSPV-Compromís and UP. At that time, the Ministry was in the hands of Oltra. Under her responsibility, a minor was abused by an educator at a center, who was her husband at the time, and has been sentenced to 5 years. Due to this there is a judicial procedure underway. Members of the Valencian government continue to say that Oltra is the victim. Is the European Parliament also going to look the other way? We ask for help in the face of the refusal to open investigation commissions in these cases, please think about those boys and girls.”

Caterina Molinari from the Directorate General for Home Affairs of the European Commission has recalled Brussels’ commitment to “fight against child abuse, which is a priority”, and recalled that “in 2019 a procedure was opened against three Member States for the transposition of the directive [entre otras cosas por la lentitud del Gobierno de Mariano Rajoy], and the Spanish response has been examined. The Commission will ensure that the Spanish authorities comply with the transposition”

Molinari has not talked about the request specifically. The European Commission already determined last March that it is not the competent body to carry out these investigations, with a written communication to the two complainants. “The regulation of the operation of agencies for the protection of minors corresponds to Spanish legislation. In addition, the Commission cannot intervene in individual cases (…) Thus, the resolution of these issues must be sought at the national level”, indicates the letter, which recalls that “in January 2019, it initiated an infringement procedure by transposition of the Directive by Spain”, referring to the provisions against child prostitution.

For his part, Juan Vicente Santos Cerveró, General Director of the Vice Presidency and Department of Equality of the Valencian Government, has defended the management of his department: “The statements made are false. The petitioners know this. Since 2015 there is an advanced level of protection, there is a government that allocates more resources than ever to ensure the protection of those most in need. The political use with such a sensitive issue, based on half-truths, is shameful. They frighten minors under guardianship, sowing doubts. Before this committee, we affirm: the Spanish institutions take the investigations very seriously, we work for the correct transposition of the directive, which due to the neglect of the PP has led to an infringement procedure. The minors are now protected”.

The socialist Domènec Ruiz Devesa has insisted that “the victim in this case has been protected, she has a ruling in her favour. And the accusations against the Ministry of the Valencian government are in a judicial process that will give satisfaction in one way or another. It is redundant to ask for protection.

In contrast, the Citizens MEP Jordi Cañas has claimed the “legitimacy” of the debate and has asked to keep the petition open, like the spokesman for the extreme right, Jorge Buxadé (Vox).

On the part of the Greens, Diana Ribas has argued “the unfortunate show of instrumentalization of politics that this committee suffers. It is customary to say the obvious: that in this case, once again, the committee is at the service of the Spanish right and extreme right, that the European Commission has clearly stated that it is outside its powers.

The MEP of United We Can Sira Rego (IU), has insisted on “remembering that this commission is not a court, we should stick to our functions and powers. We are all here to prevent cases of sexual abuse. But it is important to remember that this matter is already being investigated in Spain and we must be respectful of the process”.

The discordant note, key to what would come later, was the intervention of the Estonian Toom: “I cannot agree with Cañas. There is an ongoing case in Valencia, and we are not an investigative body. I am a coordinator, I deal with requests more often than the substitutes who come when their country is discussed. What would happen if we keep it open? There are hundreds open, and we don’t go back to them because there is no time. It is clear that it falls outside the competence of the Union, please let us be realistic. We are swamped, we cannot deal with the huge number of requests, it is terrible, it is delicate, but take into account the people in the secretariat. How many are pending? 400? We won’t have time to see them, and we can’t spend hours and hours on issues that aren’t going to prosper. The Petitions Committee knows what the powers are and would ask to close it”.

Urtasun has insisted: “I can only say that I agree with the Renew coordinator. There is a judicial investigation underway. I get the feeling, and it’s a very serious issue, this request is tremendously politicized and wrong. They have their right to come here, and it is not good practice to bring the national parties with petitions, we are going to block citizens. Keep it open, just read the European Commission”.

The socialist Inmaculada Rodríguez Piñero has also insisted that the commission “is being used in a partisan way by the right. That is the only reason why this debate is taking place. The competent authorities have taken action. your party [el PP] In addition, he has already said that he is going to appear in the judicial process. I ask that we all defend the commission, in defense of the citizens.”

change of rules

The change of criteria on Montserrat’s march to win the vote generated protests by the rest of the groups, who left the room.

“If the debate has been balanced, it doesn’t seem fair to me to vote now all of a sudden”, said Urtasun: “that the coordinators be discussed and we avoid a race to bring deputies. Let the coordinators evaluate it and decide there.” “I agree with Urtasun”, added the socialist Iban García del Blanco: “I don’t think it’s an issue to play with. Makes for a quieter meeting. If they want to vote, we vote, but it’s a bad precedent.”

“I would ask that the rules of operation always be the same and not depending on the subject,” IU spokeswoman Sira Rego replied to Montserrat: “That it be considered in a weighted way and now we look for another voting format is not sensible. It is not sensible to vote all day in one way, and now in another.”