Key extracts from the speech of European Parliament President David Sassoli to the European Council
Speaking on the recent sanctions by the Chinese government against MEPs and various EU bodies, President Sassoli said:
“I am concerned at the growing trend towards authoritarianism and the many moves to destabilise democracy. These are developments we must take seriously. Attempts are being made to steer our recovery plan in certain directions, in a clear bid to undermine our independence. At the beginning of this week, the Chinese Government imposed sanctions on five Members of the European Parliament, our Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Political and Security Committee, simply because they expressed their views in the exercise of their democratic duty.
“Soon we will be discussing the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. As always, Parliament will take great care to ensure that the imperatives of free trade do not outweigh human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
He went on to stress the need for strengthening our democracies:
“Democracy is an institutional and legal system, which is based on the trust of citizens. To earn and maintain trust, unity and transparency are needed. This is even more true in times of crisis. Europe, like the rest of the world, is in the throes of a pandemic with grave social and economic implications. In particular, we are questioning the effectiveness of the European vaccination campaign. What we have managed to achieve together in the course of one year is quite remarkable. Now is not the time for complacency, but we can look back with pride on the progress we have made.”
Continuing on the vaccine rollout, the President stated:
“We need to step up vaccine production; speed up the distribution and administration of vaccines both inside and outside the European Union. But we cannot afford to be naïve. It is time to apply the principles of reciprocity and proportionality before giving the green light to exports from the EU.
“We congratulate the Commission on locating missing batches of vaccine in Italy and hope that they will now be used in Europe and for the Covax programme. Let’s keep the momentum going and show the world what a better and more democratic Europe can do.”
On relations with the Biden administration, he added:
“Renewed cooperation between the EU and the new administration in Washington will help lend impetus to our global leadership. We recognise how necessary this is, in the interests of our society.”