‘Morocco’s jailing of journalists is a no-go’: EU Parliament’s new vice-president

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Talking Europe interviews Marc Angel, who was elected a vice-president of the European Parliament on January 18 to succeed Eva Kaili, the MEP at the heart of the Qatargate corruption scandal. Angel, a Socialists and Democrats MEP from Luxembourg, has strong words for authorities in both Morocco and Iran, as the EU Parliament ups the ante over freedoms in both countries. He discusses the EU Parliament’s vote on January 19 to condemn Morocco – the first such move by the institution in 25 years.

With 307 votes in his favour, it was a resounding win for Angel. Asked what he brings to the table as vice-president, the top lawmaker sums up: “I’m not a messiah. I’m a team player. I think we all have to be champions in anti-corruption. What counts now is to put all the reform proposals into reality. We have to win trust from the citizens again.”

Asked about the next steps, he says: “There is no time to lose. We have to deliver. We have to tackle the inter-institutional agreement (with the Council and the Commission) to set up the ethics body as soon as possible. And we have to come back to normal work too, because we’ve done good work, but the scandal overshadowed that good work. So we have to work doubly hard now.”

‘We cannot be bought by representatives of other countries’

Asked about the European Parliament’s first condemnation of Morocco in 25 years, Angel states: “As EU parliamentarians, we fight for freedom of the press. Morocco has detained journalists, and this is a no-go. Foreign influence is about Qatar, but Morocco has also been mentioned; maybe other countries will be mentioned too. It’s important that we discuss with representatives of other countries, but we cannot be bought by representatives of other countries.”

Angel also responds to reports that Moroccan officials were present in the Parliament building before the vote, in order to allegedly dissuade MEPs from voting for the resolution. He says: “I did not witness these efforts myself. I was told about them. But this shows we have to be more vigilant on who has access to the Parliament, to make sure that everyone who comes in registers, that we, as Members of Parliament, when we meet these people, we have to say who they are. Transparency is so important when it comes to trust.”

‘Important to defend dual citizens’ in Iran

The European Parliament has also upped the ante on Iran, calling on the EU leadership to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. Angel strongly backs the move, while also calling for the release of dual nationals held in Iran.

“A regime that kills its own citizens, journalists, freedom fighters, women – they are terrorists. We have to name things as they are. So it’s good that we voted this resolution. But it’s also important to defend dual citizens. These people have families and friends in Europe. We have to show that we are standing with them. They are also our brothers and sisters, and we have to raise our voices for them.”

Produced by Sophie Samaille, Perrine Desplats and Isabelle Romero

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