“These are the rules…”
No doubt this phrase is familiar to several colleagues working in EU affairs when access to the EU institutions is rightly refused because a name is not on the accreditation list. Bureaucracy and rules help avoid favoritism and guarantee fair treatment. However, The Lobby feels that the way in which security guards in the Parliament interpreted and applied the rules a couple of weeks ago are – at the very least – questionable.
On this occasion security guards at the main entrance to the European Parliament in Brussels prevented a group of students from Palermo University from entering the Parliament since the T-shirts they were wearing were deemed to carry a political message, thus violating the code of visitor conduct rules.
The students came to Brussels to attend an anti-mafia conference in the Parliament on the fight against the mafia and were wearing T-shirts carrying the slogan ‘No Mafia – Sicilians against any type of Mafia‘ in Italian, English, French, and German. They were invited by Italian Socialist MEP Rosario Crocetta, a former anti-mafia Mayor of the Sicilian city of Gela and currently under police protection after receiving death threats.
A row followed after the guards blocked the students from entering. They were only allowed to enter the building after removing the T-shirts, which were collected by two Italian MEPs who managed to get them through the security blockade (MEPs are exempt form the rules applied to visitors). Rather than leaving it there, the security guards escorted these ‘dangerous’ students whilst they were in the building to ensure they did not put the T-shirts back on.
Maybe an anti-mafia T-shirt is considered too political for the European Parliament, or at least for its visitors’ code of conduct, but students coming from parts of Europe where lives could be in danger for simply wearing such t-shirts should perhaps a receive a warmer welcome.