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The President of the European Parliament

Press Release : Brussels, 17 January 2001

Judgment by Court of First Instance on appeal by J-M. LE PEN: Statement by Nicole FONTAINE, President of the European Parliament

Following the judgment of 26 January 2001 in which the President of the Court of First Instance, in a summary ruling on an appeal lodged by Mr LE PEN, ordered that the decision to deprive him of his mandate be suspended, Mrs Nicole FONTAINE, President of the European Parliament stated:

'Going beyond the particular case of Mr. Jean-Marie LE PEN, the Court of First Instance has just issued a ruling, at least at this stage of the interpretation of Community law, on the general question of whether Parliament enjoys discretionary powers where the national authorities of the State to which a Member of the European Parliament belongs have declared him to have been stripped of his mandate.

In the case of Mr LE PEN, which was unprecedented, the French Government took the view, on the basis of a literal interpretation of Article 12 of the Act of 1976 which appeared to be broadly accepted, that Parliament should restrict itself to taking note of the deprival of a Member's mandate.

The Court, however, took a different view, ruling that the European Parliament had the "power to verify that the procedure provided for by the relevant national legislation and, where necessary, the fundamental rights of the Member of the European Parliament in question had been respected." It concluded that Parliament should have held a vote on this matter, which means that it could have either confirmed or rejected the decision by the national authorities to deprive the MEP concerned of his mandate.

Providing it is confirmed when the substance of the matter is examined, the decision by the Court of First Instance thus recognises that the European Parliament enjoys powers that few experts in Community law would have attributed to it. Especially in view of the forthcoming enlargement of the Union, this has major implications regarding the protection of the fundamental rights of each Member of the European Parliament.

Mr LE PEN's appeal - which ended with the Court ruling that he retains his mandate - will paradoxically have served to strengthen the powers of the European institutions which he spends so much time attacking.

On Monday morning the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs will be asked to examine the consequences to be drawn from this judgment.'

For further information, please contact Jacques NANCY: +32.476.96.96.72

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