Left-wing European Parliament rejects free speech debate after conservative conference chaos

Conservatives wanted the matter of attempts to censor the NatCon event in Brussels last week debated in the European Parliament, but its left-wing majority had other ideas

The European Parliament in Brussels. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

The majority left-wing European Parliament voted on Monday against a motion to discuss, at the final EU plenary of this parliamentary term, the attempt to censor a high-profile conservative conference last week in Brussels.

Italian MEP Nicola Procaccini, co-chair of the ECR group, proposed the initiative to acknowledge the treatment of those who attended the National Conservatism Conference (NatCon) last Tuesday in the de facto EU capital — an event that was twice in jeopardy after confirmed venues pulled out due to pressure exerted by left-wing politicians and activists.

After a third venue was secured at the last minute, Emir Kir, the mayor of the city’s Saint-Josse-ten-Noode region, ordered a shutdown of the conference hosting the likes of Nigel Farage, Viktor Orbán, and former Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, citing public safety concerns.

It was only after a day of Belgian police refusing re-entry to the venue and a late-night court hearing initiated by the lawyers for the event’s organizers that the conference was able to resume for its second day on Wednesday.

Concerns over the censoring of free speech were expressed by several high-profile politicians including Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo and his U.K. counterpart, Rishi Sunak, and the ECR wanted the matter discussed in the European Parliament. However, the majority left-wing faction had other ideas.

The initiative was rejected by 191 votes to 132.

András László, a candidate for Hungary’s governing Fidesz party in the upcoming European Parliament elections in June, accused the political Left of refusing to talk about free speech and the scandal that engulfed the National Conservatism Conference.

“The Left just voted to reject this debate from the EP plenary this week. They are fine with censoring conservative thought and National Conservatism,” he wrote on X.

Event organizer Anna Wellisz added, “Neither the EU Council nor the EU Commission issued any statement on the suppression of the NatCon Conference last week. Could it be they didn’t mind?”

In a press release following the vote, Procaccini criticized the left-wing parties including the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Renew Party, both of whose MEPs voted against discussing the matter.

“I consider it very serious that today this parliament wanted to reject the ECR group’s request to add a debate on the suppression of the right to speak and assembly, in light of what happened in Brussels last week.

“The left’s vote against is not surprising, including the Democratic Party which right now is talking so much about censorship and fascism. If anything, the decisive vote of the so-called ‘liberals’ of Renew is surprising. I think the time has come to find another way to define them,” he wrote.

“Evidently, the left has a rather selective idea of ​​civil rights,” he added.

The European Parliament is holding its final plenary in Strasbourg before the legislature is dissolved ahead of June’s elections.

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