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Not afraid of transparency but...

Updated: Mar 13

Monica Semedo silenced

The MEP wanted to spill the beans, but the European Parliament's services came down on her with a swiftness that surprised Fokus' spokesman Frank Engel.

"This is the first time that I can remember that in the space of two days the European Parliament has reacted to a programme broadcast, and in Luxembourgish," says Fokus' spokesman Frank Engel. Ten days ago, accompanied by Monica Semedo, he assured the 100.7 radio station that all light would be shed on the procedures that led to the MEP's second sanction. Except that, in the end, no, if she talks, she runs the risk of having her fingers wrapped a third time.

"I don't want to break the record for the most sanctions in a single term of office", says Monica Semedo, risking a little humour, and no one is stopping her from doing so. On the other hand, the services of the European Parliament curtly reminded her that she could not comment in any way on the current affair. While she has never contested her first sanction, pointing to her inexperience, she cannot accept harassment of her staff for a second time.

I wonder where this committee is going to find accusations of harassment," says Monica Semedo, "and as Frank Engel says, it would be worthless in an employment tribunal. She feels that she is the victim of harassment by the European Parliament, which is muzzling her when all she wants is to "be transparent".

A "confidential" procedure

He is being asked to respect the principle of confidentiality, as the case is still pending before the Court of Justice, to which the MEP has appealed against the second penalty imposed.

"The whole procedure is described by the Bureau as confidential and even secret, which is not shocking in these circumstances, to protect all the protagonists, but we have sanctions handed down, without reasons, in public session and the MEP is supposed to keep quiet, even though the matter has made the rounds of the press", criticises Frank Engel. The former MEP notes that Monica Semedo "has been convicted, but is unable to explain to her constituents what happened".

The reply sent to the Parliament following two e-mails explains that the Luxembourg MEP cannot allow herself to be destroyed while remaining silent. "We are waiting for an answer, we are not revealing any documents, and if they didn't like the press conference, too bad", says Frank Engel, adding that "we are no longer in the days of the Inquisition".

However, the Fokus' spokesman has no desire to fight Parliament's services "if it can be avoided". "We're not far-right morons", he explains. For her part, the MEP, who has been ordered to keep quiet, says she has "nothing to hide". She recalls having been part of a team for over fifteen years when she worked for RTL. "I'm not authoritarian, but everyone should do their duty", she says. Fokus can expect to hear the first pleadings in this case in April or May.

The DP in the know

There is another aspect of the case that is disturbing and surprising Fokus. Until recently, those in charge of Fokus were unaware that, from the start of Monica Semedo's term of office, a political adviser from the DP had been employed to support her. "He was Monica's employee from 2019 to 2020, he worked in her home country for months during the incidents that led to the first complaint. The whole narrative of the DP saying she fell head over heels, it doesn't make sense any more. He was placed there by Corinne Cahen, and the party knew everything", concludes Frank Engel.

The General Secretary at the time, Claude Lamberty, had said that the matter was closed, after hearing their elected representative in Brussels. "Then something must have happened for the party to designate the facts as serious and hasten to say that it knew nothing about the situation", analyses the Fokus spokesman.

Monica Semedo was "disorientated", because she knew nothing about it when she arrived at the European Parliament. "But from what I read, these assistants made no effort and didn't know any more than she did, so they didn't move around too much. In the end, it's only logical that we end up with distress calls at 9 p.m. because a file isn't ready", Frank Engel continues to defend his position.

"I want to explain a lot of things, but I don't have the right to do so", laments the MEP. Above all, she wants to move on and finally get down to politics.

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