EU court annuls EP decision on sanctions on former Polish MEP

Janusz Korwin Mikke Marcin Bielecki/PAP

The EU court of Justice in Luxembourg on Thursday annulled an EP decision to impose sanctions on former Polish far-right MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke over his comments against migrants and women during EP's debates.

The Polish MEP was deprived of the right to receive a daily subsistence allowance for a period of 10 and 30 days; his participation in EP work was also temporarily suspended for 5 and 10 days. The MEP appealed against both decisions.

In Thursday's ruling, the EU court stated that the freedom of speech of MEPs should be put under increased protection because of the fundamental importance that the parliament plays in a democratic society.

The judges found that neither the decision of the EP Presidium nor the parties' pleadings showed that Korwin-Mikke's statement had in any way disrupted the debates, and only that alone could be the basis for imposing a penalty.

During last year's debate on wage inequality between men and women, the MEP argued that women must earn less because they are "weaker, smaller and less intelligent". The words outraged other MEPs, who turned to the head of the EP to punish the Pole. Earlier, in 2016, Korwin-Mikke he referred to migrants from Africa as human garbage flooding Europe. In consequence, he was deprived of daily subsistence allowances equivalent to several thousand euros.

According to the EU Court, the Parliament’s rules of procedure only allow the institution to penalise MEPs if their comments "undermine [the Parliament’s] proceedings or pose a serious threat to society, such as incitement to violence or racial hatred."

The Court explained that "despite the particularly shocking nature of Mr Korwin-Mikke’s comments, in the absence of disorder or disruption of Parliament whilst in session, the relevant provisions of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament did not justify an MEP being penalised for comments made in the exercise of his parliamentary functions."