Court of Justice confirms General Court’s interpretation of the scope of MEPs immunity in Troszczynski v Parliament
Today, the Court of Justice handed down its judgment in Troszczynski v Parliament (C-12/19 P), clarifying the extent of immunity enjoyed by the members of the European Parliament (‘MEPs’) under Protocol No 7 of the privileges and immunities of the EU.
The case is an appeal against the General Court’s ruling in T-550/17, which had dismissed an annulment action by Mylène Troszczynski against the decision of the European Parliament of 14 June 2017 waiving her parliamentary immunity. The request for immunity was made in respect of an allegation of incitement of hatred, for tweeting a photograph (later revealed to be fake) of women in full veils apparently queuing for family allowance in France.
In today’s judgment, the Court of Justice dismissed the appeal in its entirety.
The Court of Justice dismissed as unfounded the first ground of appeal, according to which the General Court would have infringed Article 8 of the Protocol by holding that the tweet at issue was not an opinion issued in the performance of her parliamentary duties, within the meaning of that provision. The Court of Justice noted that, contrary to the appellant’s claims, the General Court did not state that the alleged event commented on in the tweet at issue, because of its geographical location in France, was not a matter of interest to a MEP. Nor did it rule out the possibility that events that could be linked to issues related to Islamism and the violation of women’s rights could constitute matters of general interest. What the General Court ruled was that the disputed tweet, since it expressed more a desire to emphasise behaviour contrary to French law than a concern to defend women’s rights, could not be assimilated to a more general position on current issues or those dealt with by the Parliament. Moreover, the Court of Justice noted that the General Court did not unduly restrict the concept of ‘opinion’ under Article 8 of the Protocol, but only concluded that there was no direct link between the disputed tweet and the applicant’s parliamentary duties.
The Court also dismissed the second ground of appeal, according to which the General Court infringed Article 9 of the Protocol by upholding the decision to waive the MEP’s immunity. The Court of Justice stressed that the General Court was right to find that the question whether the conditions for the waiver of parliamentary immunity under Article 9 are satisfied at the time when the request is made is distinct from the question whether the facts of which the Member concerned is accused are established, that question falling within the jurisdiction of the authorities of the Member State.
The judgment is available here (in French).