Eröffnung der Plenarsitzung: Kandidaten für das Amt des Europäischen Bürgerbeauftragten
President Schulz announced the six eligible candidates for the post of European Ombudsman, condemned Lega Nord MEP Mario Borghezio's radio remarks about Italy's Minister for Integration Cécile Kyenge Kashetu, and voiced support for Chinese human rights activist Cheng Guangcheng, in his opening address.
Mr Schulz announced that eight candidatures for the Ombudsman's post had reached him before the 8 May deadline, six of which were eligible.
In alphabetical order, they were:
- Alex Brenninkmeijer
- Markus Jaeger,
- Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP (EPP, NL),
- Emily O'Reilly,
- Dagmar Roth-Behrendt MEP (S&D, DE), and
- Francesco Speroni MEP (EFD, IT).
The candidates will be heard by the Petitions Committee on 18 June, and the new Ombudsman will be elected at the July plenary session.
Mr Borghezio's remarks about Ms Kayenge Kashetu, in a 30 April interview on Italy's Radio 24, were unacceptable, and brought shame upon the European Parliament, said Mr Schulz, reporting that he had received a petition signed by 130,000 citizens calling for sanctions against Mr Borghezio.
But the European Parliament has no instruments for lifting Mr Borghezio's immunity directly. The Italian authorities would first have to decide whether he had committed offence for which he could be tried in court, said Mr Schulz, assuring Ms Kyenge that she had the European Parliament's support.
Mr Schulz also noted that Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who fled the US embassy in Beijing last year and is travelling in Europe, had alleged that the Chinese government had retaliated for his escape by beating up his brother and denying his nephew vital medical care in prison. Parliament will not accept such "physical and psychological intimidation", he warned.