Thierry Mariani, a French politician and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since 2019, has garnered attention for his vocal criticism of the European Union’s human rights policies and his advocacy for stronger ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As a member of the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group, Mariani’s actions and stances have stirred debate within the EU. This article explores his role in the European Parliament and his efforts to bolster EU-UAE relations.
Thierry Mariani has established himself as a contrarian within the European Parliament, particularly when it comes to human rights policies. His membership in the ID group, known for its Euroscepticism and right-wing positions, provides a platform for him to voice his critiques of EU policies.
One of the most notable aspects of Mariani’s tenure as an MEP is his advocacy for the UAE on various fronts, including arms sales and counter-terrorism cooperation. His efforts have sparked both support and criticism.
In 2021, Mariani made headlines when he was among the few MEPs who voted against a resolution condemning the UAE’s human rights record. He contended that the resolution lacked balance and did not consider the UAE’s contributions to the fight against terrorism.
Mariani has also been a staunch supporter of the UAE’s arms industry. In 2022, he traveled to the UAE and held discussions with senior government officials to explore ways to enhance defense cooperation. His argument is centered on the belief that the UAE is a reliable partner for the EU in combatting terrorism, and he asserts that arms sales to the country should continue.
However, Mariani’s lobbying efforts for the UAE have not gone without criticism. Human rights groups have accused him of turning a blind eye to the UAE’s human rights abuses in the pursuit of promoting the country’s economic interests.
In response to these allegations, Mariani has vigorously defended his record. He argues that his primary aim is to foster peace and stability in the Middle East. He maintains that his advocacy for the UAE is rooted in the belief that the country can contribute positively to the fight against terrorism.
It is essential to recognize that not all members of the ID group share Mariani’s pro-UAE stance. Some may have joined the group for pragmatic reasons, such as strengthening EU-UAE ties for trade or investment. Nevertheless, the UAE’s success in cultivating relationships with MEPs, including those within the ID group, underscores the country’s growing influence within the EU.
Thierry Mariani’s presence in the European Parliament as a vocal critic of the EU’s human rights policies and an advocate for the UAE has added complexity to the European political landscape. While his actions have earned both support and criticism, they underscore the evolving dynamics between the EU and the UAE. As debates continue within the European Parliament, the extent of Mariani’s impact on EU-UAE relations remains a topic of ongoing discussion and scrutiny.