Doubts raised over Gianni Pittella’s suitability for top EU parliament job

Written by Martin Banks on 11 January 2017 in News
News

MEP Heidi Hautala says despite concerns, European Parliament's Green group not ruling out strategic deal with Socialists on filling assembly's presidency post.

Gianni Pittella MEP

Gianni Pittella | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


Gianni Pittella is the European Parliament’s Socialist group candidate to replace Martin Schulz who steps down as president next week.

A secret ballot of all MEPs will decide the next president and the Greens invited each of the candidates to put their case during informal hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

In his hearing, Pittella, the current socialist group leader, said that, if elected, he would make the conference of presidents, the body of group leaders, “a forum for real and open debate.”


RELATED CONTENT


He also pledged to be an “inclusive” president who would be “available to all MEPs, regardless of their role and function.”

He said he would also seek to conclude a “more ambitious” inter institutional agreement “which guarantees access to important and relevant” documents for all MEPs.

His candidacy has however incensed the parliament’s centre-right EPP group which, under a 2014 so called “grand coalition” agreement with the Socialist group, was due to take the presidency for the second half of the current parliament’s mandate.

The Socialists decided to end the deal after Schulz announced his departure. Pittella defended the decision to end the agreement saying it was necessary to ensure that all three EU institutions do not end up having an EPP-affiliated president all at the same time.

On Wednesday, Greens group MEPs gave their reaction to the performance by Pittella with leading Dutch member Bas Eickhout telling this website, “He had great difficulty explaining why he and his group ended the grand coalition.

“He did not really answer the question and he did not succeed in removing the many doubts about his candidacy in my group.”
 
His colleague, Finnish member Heidi Hautala was slightly more upbeat about Pittella but still said his answers to the questioning he faced had been “ambiguous.”

She said, “He did not make it clear what he thinks of the grand coalition and the agreement with the EPP group. That is where he was ambiguous and that is why his appearance raised more questions than gave answers.”

However, she added, “On the other hand, he was open and frank and gave good signals on some issues, such as his intention, if elected, to open up more parliamentary committees to discuss the CETA trade deal.
 
“He met with a lot of scepticism in the group but I still do not rule out us making some sort of deal with the Socialists next week.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

Tags

Interested in this content?

Sign up to our free daily email bulletins.

 

Share this page

Tags

Categories

Related Articles

Is closer EU defence cooperation really needed?
22 March 2017

With Nato already established some MEPs question the need for a new Brussels-based EU military HQ.

Related Partner Content

Mariann Skar Thought Leader | Eurocare: EU alcohol strategy
27 November 2014

The EU must 'take the lead' in tackling alcohol-related harm, writes Mariann Skar.

Commission Presidential Debate PM+: Europe needs to put aside 'failed policies of past'
9 May 2014

As presidency candidates call for 'new start', very few concrete plans are being put forward on 'Europe's youth', says Patrik Kovács.

Online Crackdown PM+: EU lacking effective response to extremist online propaganda
30 September 2015

Who is controlling the counter-narratives to extremism? This is the question that many EU policymakers want answered, argues Tehmina Kazi.