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14/06/2011 Web review: A ‘green’ session at the European Parliament

Green was the new black at this June’s plenary session! Firstly, a cucumber was brandished as a prop in the debate on E-coli. Then, some eurosceptic MEPs turned green at Guy Verhofstadt’s allegedly ‘anti-British’ speech. Finally, a green bear was lolloping around the corridors of the European Parliament.

On Tuesday June 7th, MEP Francisco Sosa Wagner caused a real stir. Photographs of him have made their way far and wide around the internet. Why? Because an MEP waving a cucumber around the Parliament is not something one sees every day.

The photo of the Spaniard with earphones on and cucumber in his right hand was picked up in media all over Europe and even on the other side of the Atlantic in Canada. French radio station, Europe 1, dubbed him ‘champion of the Spanish cucumber’.

Clash: Verhofstadt versus the UK

Faced with the economic crisis, Member States have one single economic policy – austerity. This means a freeze on community spending and even a reduction in the European budget. Yet the European Parliament has just voted for a report which calls for an increase of more than 5% in the next European budget. During the debate, Guy Verhofstadt spoke for the liberal group (ALDE), and incited the anger of UK MEPs.

He presented a letter written by the British government that expressed its disappointment in the content of the parliamentary report that is advocating for an increase in the EU budget. The former Belgian Prime Minister concluded from the criticism that, “we have a very good SURE report”. Continuing his attack on her majesty’s government, he said that they “do not want any increase in the multiannual budgetary framework but want to maintain it at its current level [...] If Britain wants to make savings, it would be better done by joining the euro!”

“Shocking” was the response from conservative MEP Daniel Hannan (ECR) who wrote a blog post (hosted by The Telegraph) savaging Mr. Verhofstadt’s declaration.

A green bear in the European Parliament

The European Parliament is truly the incarnation of the European motto – united in diversity. Proof of this lies in the fact that along with meeting MEPs, journalists, assistants, visiting school groups in the Strasbourg corridors, one might also bump into green bears.

Sven Giegold, Green MEP, is behind what he calls the best PR tool going. In a video broadcast on the European Greens website, he assures viewers that the bear was not manufactured by child labourers. Watch the video.

Be that as it may, this bear is having the same effect as another of her kind recently used for a campaign by Pro Infirmis (an organisation advocating for handicapped people). In Parliament everyone wanted to give her a hug, especially Green MEP Jan Albrecht!

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