Parliament president relents on hybrid working after backlash from MEPs

European Parliament President David Sassoli on Friday reversed his decision to oblige MEPs to turn up in person in Strasbourg next week for a plenary session.

In a statement, Sassoli said he has proposed the reintroduction of the teleworking regime he halted at the end of October. The move came after MEPs rebelled over being forced to turn up amid surging COVID cases.

The leaders of the Parliament’s political groups will need to sign off on the plan to return to hybrid working, a decision expected later Friday.

“I have listened to concerns raised by many of you,” Sassoli wrote in an email to EU lawmakers, which he also published online.

“The overall epidemiological situation within the Union has deteriorated, with case notification rates, hospital admissions, and other indicators increasing.”

The U-turn from Sassoli comes just before the Parliament holds a full session in Strasbourg from Monday to Thursday next week, meaning MEPs — who expected to have to be physically present in order to participate — will already have booked travel and accommodation.

The stricter rules were already in force when MEPs met for a two-day plenary in Brussels last week.

Over 80 MEPs and Parliament staff have caught COVID-19 in recent days, heightening fears about the prospect of gathering all 705 MEPs in the Strasbourg hemicycle next week.

If approved, the relaxed rules would also apply to committee meetings.

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