Stéphane Séjourné, leader of the European liberals: “We have to give a political fight to the ultra-conservative states” | International

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Just a month ago, Stéphane Séjourné served as the new leader of the European Liberals. This Frenchman, born in Versailles 36 years ago, leads a group of 98 deputies in the European Parliament, Renew – which also includes the representatives of Citizens in Spain – and he already has the opportunity to be the referee of the chess game that European popular and socialists play for the Presidency of the European Parliament for the second part of the legislature. The former already have a candidate; the latter defoliate the daisy, but are not willing to give up the position now occupied by the progressive David Sassoli in exchange for nothing.

“Parliament chooses a president and does not choose anything else”, he replies when asked if he is willing to open the field and also negotiate on the Presidency of the Council, now occupied by the Belgian liberal Charles Michel. “I am waiting for the socialist group to propose a candidate. […] Then we will have a very open debate in my group, as open as possible and without any anticipated conclusion ”, explains the politician, very close to President Emmanuel Macron, with whom he shares his previous time in the French Socialist Party. From his words it is concluded that Renew does not feel linked to the pact reached between the popular, socialists and liberals two years ago to distribute the most relevant positions in the institutions.

The day after Séjourné took office – which until recently was held by former Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Cioloş – the European Parliament warned the Commission that it would not tolerate further delays in responding to Poland and Hungary for violating the State of right. An announcement that he, like the great groups of the camera, supported. “Fear has to change sides. Today, Europe is more afraid of the empty seat of these two countries in the European Council than they of the consequences of [infringir] our regulations ”, he says. “For the moment, what the Commission did is insufficient,” he adds, and the argument of waiting for the Court of Justice of the European Union to put things in their place with a ruling is not valid as an excuse: “There is two camps, the judicial and the political ”. And it corresponds to them the latter. “There is an unacceptable drift in those two states,” he says.

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“You have to put sanctions”

The rule of law, freedom of the press, the independence of justice… “This is the DNA of Europe. These countries accepted our rules [al entrar en la UE]. That is not being fulfilled. You have to put sanctions. I do not forget the political combat that we have to wage against the ultra-conservative states. Which is also a fight to reinforce our European rules ”. He does not express it openly, but he believes that the arrival of the German liberals to power reinforces the position of his political family in Europe: “In the agreements and the government program in Germany there are priorities for our group.”

He is more ambiguous about the reform of the Stability Pact, the great debate that the European Commission has opened this autumn, and in which his country has a clear position to make the rules more flexible. That is where he seems to align himself when he states that the talks should address “investment in transition [energética], innovation and new technologies ”. An item that, according to the Commission’s own numbers, will require investments of half a billion euros a year until 2030 to achieve the objectives set by Brussels. Regarding the deadlines, he limits himself to pointing out that for now “things are open” and that, although the first half of 2022 corresponds to the Presidency of France, the first thing to do is see how the rules that were suspended when the pandemic exploded to avoid a greater economic impact.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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