"Interference" or "false accusations"? European prosecutor's case divides the European Parliament

Only the European political group that is part of the PS accepted the Portuguese Government's explanations without reservation. The PSD and CDS-PP political group says that “these nonsense are typical of other latitudes” and that the case needs to be investigated. The GUE / NGL, where BE and the PCP are located, are not opposed to the nomination, but regretted the "serious mess" that threatens to taint the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The controversy surrounding the nomination of José Guerra was discussed this Wednesday in the European Parliament. The Government guaranteed that “there was no political interference” and assured that José Guerra's choice was “independent” and “transparent”, but the explanations of the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias, did not convince all MEPs.

From the “condemnation” of the PPE (political group in which the PSD and CDS-PP are represented) to the “tremendous shock” the Renew Europe group, including the Greens' request to “safeguard institutions” and that the opinion of the European jury should become binding, only the S&D (which is part of the PS) accepted the Portuguese Government's explanations without reservation. The GUE / NGL (where the BE and the PCP are located) does not oppose the nomination, but regrets “a serious mess” that threatens to taint the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).

Nonsense does not play in favor of the European presidency, says PPE

“I am saddened to have to condemn the behavior of the Portuguese Government, but the facts are irrefutable. The Portuguese Government lied to the Council about the qualification of one of the candidates for the European Public Prosecutor's Office. Because of that lie, a decision was taken that should not have been made ”, said Spanish MEP Esteban González Pons, of the European People's Party (PPE), where the PSD and CDS-PP are represented.

According to the PPE vice-president, “this kind of nonsense is typical of other latitudes” and “does not play in favor of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU”. Esteban González Pons also said that he does not even know what is worse, "the excuse for administrative errors or the anti-Portuguese international conspiracy theory", and asked the European Commission to investigate the case.

Also from the PPE, German MEP Monika Hohlmeier, who chairs the parliamentary Budgetary Control Committee, argues that “the European Public Prosecutor's Office must be independent due to its own nature” and “the appointed prosecutors must be independent”. “Giving preference to certain candidates is unacceptable and there is no transparent basis for nomination. This is something very wrong and I ask that this change ”, he said.

The PPE also asked for an investigation into the case and called on the Portuguese Government to assume “its responsibility towards the Portuguese and the European Union”. "Lies must have consequences," he said.

S&D denies interference: "If this were a naval battle and I would say there were three shots in the water"

In defense of the Portuguese Government, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) came out, where the PS is represented. MEP Isabel Santos assured that “there was no political interference” in the nomination process and, even though the microphone was silenced, accused the PPE of integrating “the real warpers of this disinformation campaign, the only purpose of which is to achieve the Portuguese presidency of the Council the EU ”.

MEP Pedro Silva Pereira also assured that the process was transparent and said that "one thing is legitimate doubts and in good faith about the transparency of Council appointments in the appointments of European prosecutors, another is false accusations". "Today it is known that this opinion [of the European jury] is not binding and that it has not been followed by other countries either", he mentioned, referring to Belgium and Bulgaria.

“They accused the Government of making a political appointment, but today it is clear that the Portuguese prosecutor was not chosen by the Government, but by an independent body. They said that the Council's decision was determined by lies and errors in the candidate's curriculum, but today it is known that the curriculum in the process was free from errors and that the basis for the Council's decision was not based on any errors ”, he explained.

"If this were a naval battle and I would say there were three shots in the water, because this is just an artificial case", he said.

Left supports nomination and criticizes PPE

The European United Left / Nordic Green Left, where the Left Bloc and the PCP are located, also defended the Portuguese Government. The communist MEP Sandra Pereira said that the political group she is part of does not oppose the selection made by the Portuguese authorities and that she recognizes “better competence when choosing the European prosecutor to be appointed to Portugal”.

Even so, he acknowledged that the process is marked by “discrepancies between the candidate's curriculum chosen by the Portuguese Government and the document accompanying that curriculum” and that “it is important to know on what grounds the European Council was based to appoint the attorney appointed by Portugal” . "It is necessary to find out what happened and prevent this situation from happening again," he shot.

“Let this situation be clarified for the sake of transparency and rigor. But don't count on us for the blistering of this issue, there's a political agenda behind it ”, he added.

The blocker José Gusmão underlined that the nomination process "was adequate": "the name that was proposed by Portugal for the European Public Prosecutor's Office corresponds to the first name selected by the Superior Council of the Public Ministry". But the “serious mess that occurred with the provision of false information in the candidate's curriculum must and has already had political consequences”.

And in a message to the PPE and the Portuguese parties that make it up (PSD and CDS-PP), he suggested that “look at your own bench and the Fidesz that makes it up”, and “stop making alliances with the far right in Portugal because it is more in this area that the future of democracy is played out in our country and in Europe ”.

Renewing Europe says appointment was a “tremendous shock”

Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld, who is part of the Renew Europe group, said that José Guerra was “shocked”, but stressed that Portugal was not the only country that did not heed the recommendations of the European committee of experts (Belgium and Bulgaria also did not). "Portugal, Belgium, Bulgaria and the entire Council call into question the functioning of the European Public Prosecutor's Office", he said.

For Sophie in 't Veld, “there was no reason” for these countries to depart from the experts' recommendation, unless they wanted to “create jobs for friends”. And he stressed: “We need total transparency from Portugal. Portugal has to give all the information to clarify the issue and the Council has to explain clearly about the process and we recommend that it commit itself to never deviating from the suggested list to avoid situations of this type ”.

In Renewing Europe, Romanian Dragoş Tudorache added that it is necessary "to ensure that European funds are not spent in a fraudulent way and that they do not reach the wrong pockets" and that, in this respect, "the European Public Prosecutor's Office is very important". "In order to guarantee independence, both from Brussels and from European capitals, prosecutors have to be appointed respecting the rules", he stressed.

Greens ask for “safeguarding institutions” and whoever seems binding

For the Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance (party that the PAN was part of, until Francisco Guerreiro left the party), Belgian MEP Saskia Bricmont argued that the European Public Prosecutor's Office has “powers of inquiry and prosecution” in crimes of corruption and fraud, and that is why “institutional safeguards” are necessary to guarantee its independence.

"From Portugal, it is expected that, as incumbent presidency, he will set an example and follow the experts so that the European Public Prosecutor's Office can fight against fraud and corruption without the risk of political interference," he said, stressing that his political group will strive to “make the role of European experts and the final classification of candidates“ in the decision of European prosecutors “binding”.

German Daniel Freund also underlined that "the European Public Prosecutor's Office must be a tool to fight fraud and corruption" and that it must have "competent people to carry out its mission", but "the Council does not want it to be successful" . “There is no good funding and three Governments have interfered with the nomination process,” he said, pointing a finger at the European Council and the Commission.

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