The Plenary session of the European Parliament, which takes place in Strasbourg for one week every month, is normally a sterile exercise, all speeches pre-prepared and rehearsed, any true ‘debate’ stifled by the rules and regulations of the house.
There is though one little window of opportunity, the ‘blue card’. Under this system, after an MEP has delivered his/her lines, another MEP can hold aloft a blue card, signalling to the chair that he/she would like to pose a question to the speaker. The chair may then (if there is time/willingness) ask if the speaker is willing to accept the card; if yes, you have half a minute to get in your question but then that’s it – whatever the reply, you have to accept it, no more comeback.
Last week, one such opportunity presented itself to me, a German MEP from the EPP group spouting off against Greece and using Ireland/Spain/Portugal as the sticks with which to draw blood. Herbert Reul (pronounced ‘Royal’) is his name and he’s from the ruling Christian Democrat party but I want to make clear – there are many Germans and many German MEPs (most of those in our group here, GUE/NGL) who do NOT agree with all that’s being said and done in their name, including the demonization and the impoverishment of Greeks and of Greece.
I saw red, went for blue, got in my spake and left Mr Reul a wiser if a more outraged soul.
There will be more of this, much more.