7th April 2014: Today at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate, held in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) about whether the Co-ordinators* were right or wrong to disallow two debates that had been tentatively placed on the agenda. The disallowed debates would have been on proposals from Philip Claeys (Vlaams Belang) and Marine le Pen (FN) for the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee to be abolished.
"The President seemed to say that the debates could not take place because the abolition of these institutions would require treaty change. However, we had a debate on the Rangel Report which asked us to consider whether we wanted to have a Presidential system involving direct election of the President of the Commission (and treaty change) or a Prime Ministerial system that would not require treaty change.
Mr Duff, an English Liberal Democrat, said that it would be inappropriate to have a debate in AFCO on these matters and said that any such debate should take place in a convention. He began by seeming to suggest that only debates about proposals involving treaty changes in a federal direction would be justified."
"Is Mr Duff suggesting that debates could be held if they led in a federal direction but not if they led in an anti-federal direction?"
Mr Duff said that he was only teasing when he said that. However, it is not always possible to detect subtle ironies in Mr Duff's deliveries.
Indeed the meeting had a very poor attendance, because most members thought that campaigning for the forthcoming elections was more important than doing what they were paid for.
* The Co-ordinators are the leaders of the different political groups. However, it appears that at this Co-ordinators' meeting there were no representatives from the Socialists and Democrats, the European Conservatives and Reformists, Confederation of European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) and the Greens. A representative for the EFD was present for only the first few minutes. It seems that the meeting comprised mainly PPE (European People's Party); ALDE (Liberals) and Europe for Freedom and Democracy (for a little while). It is not really acceptable to take such an important decision to be taken at such a depleted co-ordinators' meeting.