Members of the European Union institutions have special privileges under Article 7 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union.

On September 5, 2012 the appeal to remove the fine levied against Nigel Farage was denied.  Two years ago a member of the European Union’s Parliament, Nigel Farage, proclaimed that the European Union Commission President and former Belgian prime minister Herman Van Rompuy came from “pretty much a non-country” and that the president had “the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk”. Farage was fined 10 days pay, amounting to 2,980 Euros or $3,910. Farage’s appeal to the European Court of Justice was denied with prejudice due to prescription. Farage not only had to pay the fine, but he was also ordered to pay the legal fees for the European Parliament. The speech related to a far more important issue.  However, it was overshadowed by these remarks.

The European Union protects the freedom of expression under of the CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION Article 11.  Article 11 does not protect slander and defamation, which this insult would fall under.

There is however a special defense for members of the EU Parliament. After reading his arguments in Farage v. Parliament and Buzek, it is probable that the European Court of Justice would have found in favor of Farage had it not been for the calendrical victory by Van Rompuy.  Farage’s most influential argument was that of Article 7 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, “as the speech of the applicant on 24 February 2010 was made in his capacity as a member of the European Parliament.” Unfortunately the case was thrown out due to prescription before the court would answer Farage’s petition.

This issue concerning the privilege powers has not been tested on the merits.  It appears that the merits might be tested because, according to the article, Farage stated, “I shall now weigh up my options of appeal,” and that there should be “freedom of speech of all elected members” and “not just for supporters of the EU’s political union.”  It shall be interesting to see whether or not the court takes this case.  The limits of Article 7, need to be determined through a test based on the merits.




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