What's New(s)

WHAT’S NEW(S) – 12/03/2021

 WHAT’S NEW(S) – 12/03/2021

Puigdemont & International Women’s Day

In Spain convicted, in Brussels protected, that was the status of Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan Members of the European Parliament. Was. Until this Tuesday, when the Parliament voted to strip the immunity of the MEPs. In this week’s What’s New(s) we discuss how Belgian and Spanish media reported on this decision.

On a completely different note, we also take a look at European press reporting on International Women’s Day. Is there any cause of celebration, according to the EU press ?

You'll find the script below :

In Spain convicted, in Brussels protected, that was the status of Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan Members of the European Parliament. Was. Until this Tuesday, when the Parliament voted to strip the immunity of the MEPs.

Good morning, can you tell us, what happened, and how did the European press report on this decision ?

With a majority of 400 votes in favour, the European Parliament voted to lift the parliamentary immunity of Catalan leader Puigdemont and three of his colleagues, convicted in Spain for sedition, disobedience and the misuse of public funds, and sentenced up to 13 years of prison. The decision will activate the EU arrest warrant issued by Spain, if, state the Belgian media, the Belgian court agrees. “The fate of Puigdemont lies in Belgian hands” was the headline of newspaper De Morgen. Flemish channel VRT broadcasted an interview with Puigdemont, in which he argued that the “rules of the European Parliament have been broken” and said he would ask the European court of Justice to suspend the decision. The broadcaster also cited Geert Bourgeois of the Flemish National Alliance who declared Tuesday as “the day of disgrace and shame”.

And can the decision be seen as a win for Spain ?

Partially, some national Spanish media indeed reported quite differently on the Parliament’s decision, compared to their Flemish counterparts. “The government hopes that it will only be a matter of months before Belgium hands out Carles Puigdemont.” headlined El Mundo. The Spanish media however also underlined that even with this decision, it is not so sure that Puigdemont will be convicted any time soon. “This opens a period of uncertainty with many questions” stated Guillermo Abril in El País, “since we are talking about a country where resistance to extraditions to Spain is not new”, referring to the case of an ETA member in 2003, when it took up to three arrest warrants and a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights for Belgium to agree to hand out the convicted.

And then, moving to a completely other event that is perhaps not news, but has been receiving more attention over the past years: International Women’s Day. Is there still reason to draw attention to existing inequalities, according to the EU press ?

Absolutely. According to the report of the EU agency of fundamental rights published by Euronews 83% of women between 16 and 39 had to change where they go in order to avoid violence or harassment? France 24 reports that 1 in every 3 women suffer gender related aggressions in their lifetime. In terms of pay gap, according to Reuters, women earn on average 14% less, meaning they end up working almost two months free every year compared to men... And talking about reducing inequalities, the Guardian does not picture a bright image for the years to come. Because of the pandemic, inequalities have only increased. “Half of the women in the UK fear inequality is going back to the 1970s” according to the newspaper.

And what did the European press write on activities held on the 8th of March ?

In Spain the focus was on the ban on demonstrations announced by the government that was fearing massive gatherings in the country. This ban did not stop women from taking the streets. Ana Requena, journalist for El Diario described it as "a strange day, between nostalgia, anger and vindication. But with the feeling that the revolution that exploded three years ago is here to stay". In neighbouring France, 37 trade unions and feminist organisations called for a “feminist strike”. Moving towards the North, Poland's abortion crackdown sparked mass rallies, and weakened support for the ruling nationalist coalition, reports Wojieciech KOSC in Politico. But these were only a few of the many events celebrated across Europe…

The day’s objective is also to “celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women”. How did the press report about these issues ?

Well, lots of work to be done still, according to the press. In light of the upcoming elections, the Dutch media took the opportunity to reflect on the position and experiences of women in Dutch politics. Women in politics are still overwhelmed by sexist comments, revealed De Groene Amsterdammer, who mapped out harmful comments towards female politicians on social media. German newspaper Der Spiegel took a critical look at its own reporting. How many times does it describe and cite women, compared to men? The result is stunning. In about 40,000 articles, men are mentioned 107,000 times, and women only 28,000. In 42% of the texts, only men appear as experts, compared to 6% for women. “We must succeed to change the patterns”, were the words of the newspaper.

Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

Image : European People's Party, CC BY 2.0