The European Parliament recently issued a mandate ending the remote working model that started due to the pandemic and is requiring all MEPs to return to Brussels and Strasbourg for in-person work.
Several MEPs are criticising President David Sassoli for rejecting the hybrid working structure that has been in place for the past year and a half in favour of a return to normalcy. The 705 European elected officials are now required to attend all work sessions, precisely as they did before the outbreak. The only distinction is that to enter the Parliament buildings, you must have a Covid passport with proof of vaccination, a negative test, or a coronavirus recovery.
According to the new rules, voting and debate must take place only in person, and “physical distancing in plenary sittings should be lifted.” On October 28, David Sassoli issued a notice to all MEPs announcing the termination of the hybrid approach.
“Parliament has the obligation to return to business as usual.”
David Sassoli, President, EP
Mr Sassoli’s decision to change the regulations was inspired by a “general readiness” among MEPs to return to physical closeness in order to improve the quality of debates and boost democracy, according to Delphine Colard, the Parliament’s deputy spokesperson.
“The idea was that it was better to represent the citizens to be present somewhere.”Delphine Colard, Parliament’s Deputy Spokesperson
Last month’s hybrid Parliament week in Strasbourg drew over 550 MEPs, indicating that a physical Parliament session has returned.
Several MEPs expressed their displeasure after learning that they would no longer be able to vote online, as they had been for several months.
“Member states are reinstating security measures against Covid and at the same time we are now sitting elbow to elbow in this room, travelling from all across Europe.”Karen Melchior, Danish MEP
“We’re holding the biggest super-spreader event in Brussels.”Daniel Freund, German Green MEP
Freund added that it was also a step backward in terms of technological progress, as Parliament has been totally digital since March 2020.
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