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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

EU distances itself from its lawmakers’ anti-CAA move: Not our official position

Sources said this distancing of the EU and France from the European Parliament comes at a time when New Delhi has diplomatically 'engaged' Brussels and European parliamentarians.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: January 28, 2020 7:14:05 pm
caa, resolution on caa, european parliament, caa eu reolutions, european parliament on caa, citizenship law, indian express French diplomatic sources underlined that France, a founding member of the European Union, considers the new citizenship law an “internal political matter of India”. (Representational Image)

With five key political groupings in the European Parliament — these range from centre-right to far-left — moving resolutions slamming India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the European Union Monday said the opinions expressed by the European Parliament and its members “do not represent the official position of the European Union”.

French diplomatic sources underlined that France, a founding member of the European Union, considers the new citizenship law an “internal political matter of India” and that European Parliament is an institution “independent of member states” and the European Commission.

This distancing of the EU and France from the European Parliament, sources said, comes at a time when New Delhi has diplomatically “engaged” Brussels and European parliamentarians.

Sources said Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has shot off a “strong protest letter” to the chairperson of the European Parliament, objecting to a potential situation of European Parliament taking up resolutions against the CAA approved by the Indian Parliament.

In an email response to The Indian Express Monday, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Virginie Battu-Henriksson said: “The European Parliament is currently planning to hold a debate on legislation adopted by the Government of India last December establishing a fast track procedure for irregular migrants belonging to certain religious groups originating from neighbouring countries. The Supreme Court of India is currently assessing the constitutionality of this law. As per its regular procedures, the European Parliament published the draft Resolutions. It is important to recall that these texts are only drafts tabled by various political groups in the European Parliament.”

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“Let me also remind you that the opinions expressed by the European Parliament and its Members do not represent the official position of the European Union. The EU will host its 15th Summit with India on the 13th March 2020 in Brussels, with a view to strengthen its Strategic Partnership with India. India is a key partner for the EU to address global challenges and to jointly promote the rules based multilateral order,” she said.

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The Indian Express has learnt that Indian Ambassador to Belgium, Gaitri Issar Kumar, who liaises with the EU and the European Parliament, and her team have reached out to European lawmakers.

Sources said Speaker Om Birla’s protest letter to the chairperson of European Parliament has cited the mutual understanding among member states of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that considers the legislatures of respective nation states as sovereign, and does not interfere in their business and processes.

In this context, Birla is said to have stressed that it will be inappropriate for the European Parliament to pass a judgment on a legislation approved by both Houses of Parliament after due deliberations. In fact, the Speaker has cautioned against the precedent that European Parliament may set by allowing resolutions moved against the CAA.

Sources said the Speaker has used his communication to underline the CAA provisions, and that the law does not seek to revoke the citizenship of any citizen to make them stateless. He is learnt to have said that it offers citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from certain neighbouring countries.

Reacting to the resolutions, official sources in Delhi said that the CAA is a matter “entirely internal” to India. “We hope the sponsors and supporters of the draft will engage with us to get a full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further. As fellow democracies, the EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world,” the sources said, maintaining that the CAA is an entirely internal matter of India.

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