07 SEP 2010
By Martin Banks | The Parliament
MEPs have welcomed parliament’s decision to shelve controversial plans to “fine” MEPs who did not attend commission president José Manuel Barroso's keynote speech.
However, deputies said parliament had scored a “spectacular own goal” over the affair.
Claude Moraes, a UK Socialist deputy, said, "It's crazy. The story became the [revolt against the] fine rather than Barroso's state-of-the-union address."
The u-turn comes after group leaders last Thursday decided to deduct MEPs one quarter of their daily allowance for non-attendance at Barroso's big set-piece speech.
But this decision was reversed on Monday at a meeting of parliament’s bureau, comprising its president Jerzy Buzek and 14 vice presidents.
Announcing the decision before Barroso's speech, Buzek said, "We looked at the matter and agreed that we need to beef up MEPs’ presence during debate. But we felt we need a bit more time to mull over the various possibilities."
MEPs had poured scorn on the idea and were quick to react to the change of thought.
UK Independence Party MEP Nigel Farage said, "By chopping and changing, the EU Bureau have brought their own house into disrepute, much more than I have ever done.
"Even ardent euro Federalists balked at fining MEPs for not attending Barroso's State of union speech - another PR disaster for the EU."