MEPs call for resignation of European Council chief Borrell after Moscow "misjudgement"

A cross party group of seventy-three MEPs, including members of the European People’s Party, European Conservatives and Reformists, and the Renew Europe have written to Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen calling for the resignation of High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell.

The letter has been made public less than 24 hours before Borrell is due to appear before the European Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, where he is expected to be questioned by MEPs about his trip to Moscow and his behaviour during what Borrell himself described as an "aggressively-staged press conference" with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The MEPs said "we believe that the President of the European Commission should take action, if Mr Borrell does not resign by his own accord."

At Monday's European Commission daily press conference however, chief spokesperson Eric Mamer said von der Leyen “lends her full support to the High Representative for the trip to Moscow,” and said Borrell would also face the College of Commissioners on Tuesday.

Author of the MEP's letter, Estonian Riho Terras, suggested that more MEPs may add their names to the letter

Full text of the letter:

Dear President of the European Commission,

We, the undersigned members of the European Parliament, are extremely concerned about the humiliating developments during the visit of VPC/HR Josep Borrell Fontelles to Moscow, which have greatly damaged the European Union’s reputation.

Mr Borrell decided to go to Moscow on his own initiative. This decision indicated disregard for the crimes committed by the Putin regime against its political opponents, and was not in line with a foreign policy based on values. This was exacerbated by the fact that during his visit Mr Borrell repeatedly failed to defend the European Union’s interests.

Instead of strongly condemning the arrest of Mr Navalny and visiting him in prison, Mr Borrell falsely stated that there was no talk about EU sanctions due to the imprisonment of Mr Navalny. This statement was incorrect, as several Member States, at the highest level, have called for sanctions.

Mr Borrell did not defend the EU’s interests when Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov fiercely criticised the European Union and the United States. Mr Lavrov even said that EU leaders are “deluded” and “culturally arrogant” in accusing Russia of trying to assassinate Mr Navalny. Instead of standing up to Mr Lavrov, Mr Borrell attacked our principal ally, the Unites States, over Cuba.

As a sign of disrespect towards the European Union, Russia decided to time the announcement of its decision to declare three EU diplomats (from Germany, Poland, and Sweden) as persona non grata during a joint press conference between Mr Borrell and Mr Lavrov. When learning about this, Mr Borrell failed to send a resolute signal by ending his visit at that point.

In addition to the aforementioned transgressions, Mr Borrell failed to mention Russia’s ongoing war in east Ukraine, and took the opportunity to endorse Russia’s “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine, even though it has not been approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Mr Borrell’s misjudgement in proactively deciding to visit Moscow, and his failure to stand for the interests and values of the European Union during his visit, have caused severe damage to the reputation of the EU and to the dignity of the office of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. We believe that the President of the European Commission should take action, if Mr Borrell does not resign by his own accord.


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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

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