Movers and Shakers | 12 February 2018

Written by Ifigenia Balkoura on 12 February 2018 in News
News

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.

Today's Movers & Shakers are about:  the new special committees in the European Parliament, plenary session's highlights, appointments in the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Stability Mechanism, public affairs, the mini reshuffle in Finland, the coalition government deal in Germany, Brexit and more.

 

European Parliament:

Vice-presidency of the Parliament:
MEPs voted to end Ryszard CZARNECKI’s (ECR, PL) mandate as Vice-President of the Parliament, after he called his fellow Polish MEP Róża Thun (EPP) a “shmaltsovnik”, a term used to describe someone who is a Nazi collaborator. The vote follows a proposal by the Conference of Presidents and was not aimed at Poland or the ECR group, according to Parliament’s press release. CZARNECKI will remain a member of the European Parliament and a new Vice-President will need to be elected, likely either during the mini plenary later this month or during the March plenary. The vote passed by 447 votes to 196.

Incoming:
Jacques COLOMBIER (ENF, FR) joined the Parliament as member, effective as of 2 February, replacing Edouard FERRAND who passed away.

New Special Committees:
EU authorisation procedure for pesticides (GLYF):
MEPs backed the establishment of a new special committee which will look into the EU’s authorization procedure for pesticides, in the wake of the Monsato Papers scandal. The new committee will assess potential failures and conflicts of interests, the role of the European Commission in the renewal of the glyphosate license, as well as the EU’s agencies role. It will be comprised of 30 members and its mandate will last nine months after its first meeting. The full membership, as voted during the plenary session can be found in our Dods People EU database. Angélique DELAHAYE (FR) was appointed as the EPP group coordinator for the committee.

Financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance (TAXE III): the conference of presidents agreed to set up a new special committee that will look into financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance. The committee will be built on and complete the work carried out by TAXE I, TAXE II and PANA, it will be comprised of 45 members and will run for a mandate of 12 months. The decision will be put to a plenary vote.

Animal transport: Following a meeting on 18 January, an official request to set-up a committee of inquiry on animal transport was submitted by 223 MEPs, Sirpa PIETIKÄINEN (EPP, FI), president of Parliament’s Welfare and Conservation of Animals intergroup announced. The request must now be evaluated by Parliament's legal service and discussed at the Conference of Presidents.


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Plenary session’s highlights:
Spitzenkandidaten:
In a vote in plenary on Wednesday, Parliament voted in favour of a resolution that rejects contenders for European Commission President who are not “lead candidates” of European political parties to lead the institution for the next five years. This system was first used in 2014, to select current Commission President Jean-Claude JUNCKER, who supports the same system being used to find his successor. The vote was backed by 457 votes to 200, with 20 abstentions. Esteban GONZÁLEZ PONS (EPP, ES) is Parliament’s rapporteur.

Composition of the Parliament: The deputies voted to shrink the size of the next Parliament from 751 to 705 seats. 46 out of the 73 UK seats will be freed up potentially for new countries that will join the block, while 27 of them will be distributed among 14 under-represented EU member states. The proposal was approved by 431 votes to 182 with 61 abstentions. Pedro SILVA PEREIRA (S&D, PT) and Danuta HÜBNER (EPP, PL) are the co-rapporteurs of the report. The Council must now decide unanimously on the proposal.

Geo-blocking: the new legislation will allow online buyers in the EU to buy goods and services without being re-routed to another website because of their nationality or place of residence. It applies to physical goods such as clothes and electronics, as well as hotel bookings and car rentals, but does not cover copyrighted content. Róża THUN (EPP, PL) is Parliament’s rapporteur. The rules were backed by 557 votes to 89, with 33 abstentions.

Cut of CO2 emissions: the plenary session adopted the agreement reached between the co-legislators on the EU ETS reform with 535 for, 104 against, 39 abstentions. The agreement sees that the total volume of emissions will be reduced annually by 2.2 per cent and a new mechanism to limit the validity of allowances in the market stability reserve (MSR) above a certain level will become operational in 2023. In addition, the agreed package foresees a linear decrease of the free allocation to less exposed sectors so as to reach no free allocation in 2030, 450 million allowances for the Innovation Fund with a possible additional 75 million allowances and no support from the Modernisation Fund to energy generation facilities using solid fossil fuels. The text must be officially endorsed by the Council before it enters into force.

Clean energy innovation: MEPs have adopted a series of non-legislative recommendations. The recommendations included systematic education and engagement schemes that would help the EU citizens to achieve sustainable and clean energy. The report suggests a coherent and long-term financing that would see an increase by at least €120 billion in the next research and development budget. Jerzy BUZEK (EPP, PL), is the rapporteur. Read his recent interview in the Parliament Magazine in which he discussed the Clean Energy Package.

One-minute silence: MEPs observed one-minute silence in memory of Edouard FERRAND (ENF, FR), who passed away on 1 February. 

Biannual time change: a resolution calling for an end to the current bi-annual time change and, if necessary, a revision of the rules was overwhelmingly adopted by MEPs.

Future of Europe debate: Croatian Prime minister Andrej PLENKOVIĆ attended the session upon invitation from the president TAJANI to discuss the future of Europe. A former MEP, PLENKOVIĆ highlighted the importance of solidarity in the EU’s actions and EU’s growth and cohesion. The debate coincided with the launch of the Commission’s Western Balkans strategy. PLENKOVIĆ said that Croatia is open for dialogue and that a compromise on the border dispute between his country and Slovenia that satisfies both parties should be found. Slovenia heads to the polls in July.

Latest news:
Fact-finding mission for EMA:
The European Parliament will send a fact-finding mission to Amsterdam, led by the rapporteur on the relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Giovanni LA VIA (EPP, IT) to obtain up-to-date information on the state of play of the double transfer process and ascertain that it is proceeding “as planned and with no interruption”.


Composition of the committees and delegations:
Members:

Gabriela ZOANĂ (S&D, RO) joined the committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI), the committee on women's rights and gender equality (FEMM) and the delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula (D-ARP).
Alex MAYER (S&D, UK) left the committee on foreign affairs (AFET) and the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) and joined the committee on economic and monetary affairs (ECON.
Wajid KHAN (S&D, UK) left the committee on economic and monetary affairs (ECON) and joined the committee on foreign affairs (AFET) and the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI).
Jiří MAŠTÁLKA (GUEN/NGL, CZ) joined the committee on the environment, public health and food safety (ENVI).
Josu JUARISTI ABAUNZ (GUE/NGL, ES) left the committee on the environment, public health and food safety (ENVI).
Jörg MEUTHEN (EFDD, DE) joined the delegation to the EU-Chile joint parliamentary committee (D-CL).
Jonathan BULLOCK (EFDD, UK) switched from substitute to member of the committee on budgetary control (CONT).
Raymond FINCH (EFDD, UK) joined the committee on budgets (BUDG).
Dominique MARTIN (ENF, FR) switched from substitute to member of the special committee on terrorism (TERR).
André ELISSEN (ENF, NL) left the special committee on terrorism (TERR).

Substitutes:
Željana ZOVKO (EPP, HR) joined the subcommittee on human rights (DROI) and the delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan parliamentary cooperation committees and the EU-Georgia parliamentary association committee (D-SCA).
Luis de GRANDES PASCUAL (EPP, ES) left the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI).
Gabriela ZOANĂ (S&D, RO) joined the committee on regional development (REGI), the delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China (D-CN), the delegation for relations with South Africa (D-ZA) and the delegation to the parliamentary assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (D-MED).
 


Want to know more? Click here for information on our Dods People EU service.

 
European Central Bank (ECB):

Eurogroup’s new president Mário CENTENO received the nominations of Philip LAN, Ireland’s central bank governor and Luis DE GUINDOS’, Spain’s finance minister as candidates to replace Vítor CONSTÂNCIO as ECB Vice-President, whose mandate ends on 31 May. The nominations will be discussed at the next Eurogroup meeting on 18 February. The final decision is expected to be taken by the European Council on 22 March, following consultations with the ECB and the European Parliament.

 

European Stability Mechanism (ESM):

Harald WAIGLEIN was elected as the new chair of the board of directors, replacing Hans VIJLBRIEF.

 

Committee of the Regions (CoR):

Rapporteurs:
Roby BIWER (PES, LU) was appointed as rapporteur on biodiversity.
André VAN DE NADORT (PES, NL) was appointed as rapporteur on plastic strategy.
Andrew COOPER (EA, UK) was appointed as rapporteur on climate governance post 2020.

 

Public affairs:

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acumen public affairs: bolstered it team with three new hires. Mélanie YAMMINE joined as account manager to help grow the client portfolios in healthcare and environment, having previously worked for cefic and EFPIA. Misachi OGAWA continues at acumen as a consultant after having successfully completed his traineeship. In his new role he will run a grassroot global campaign to raise awareness on falsified medicines. Julia BURKHALTER returns to the company as a consultant after a completing a traineeship last summer.

Amnesty international: John DALHUISEN left his role as Europe director, after 10 years in the role.

European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA): Benjamin KRIEGER joined as head of the government affairs team. Prior to his appointment he was head of the trade policy at Hanover Communications. Pilar PÉREZ also joined as director of communications and operations, having previously served as public affairs manager at the European Association of Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVA).

Grayling: is boosting its senior team with the hiring of Harald BOEREKAMP as a senior director. Harald has 18 years of experience both institutionally and in the private sector, working on telecoms issues specifically. He will take over as the senior level strategic lead on our team, working with clients including HP, Naspers, and the European Wireless Infrastructure Association. He previously served as second attaché in the Dutch Permanent Representation, as well as within the European Commission when he worked as a senior national expert within the Secretariat-General and as a policy advisor in the European Parliament. In addition, he has worked for the global telecoms business association GSMA, Amazon, and Hutchison Whampoa Limited.   

Storage Europe (GSE): Lubor VELEBA was re-elected as president for a second two-year term.

T&D Europe: Diederik PEEREBOOM was appointed as the new Secretary-General as of 1 February. He took over from Nadi ASSAF. 

 

News in a nutshell:

Brexit: EU chief negotiator Michel BARNIER visited London on Monday 5 February, where he held talks with Brexit secretary of state David DAVIS. Prior to the visit though, Downing street moved to confirm that the UK will “categorically” be leaving the EU customs union. According to reports UK prime minister Theresa MAY will suggest a ‘partnership’ or a ‘highly streamlined customs arrangements’ to replace the current arrangement.

Business leaders wrote an open letter to the prime minister calling on her to makes clear what she hopes to achieve from Brexit negotiations and warning about contingency plans by companies in case of delays.

On 6 February, the European Commission published a presentation on Brexit implications for services and international agreements and trade policy.

According to the UK Government’s own impact analysis, the industrial areas of the north-east and the West Midlands will be hit hard by Brexit.

State secretary for home affairs Amber RUDD said that the UK is likely to have a new immigration system in place by the time the country leaves the EU bloc. The White paper, which is expected by the end of 2018 would entail changes that would not come into force until after the implementation period.

The EU has been accused of “wanting to punish” the UK if it fails to abide by the terms of the two-year Brexit transitional period. The attack comes after the release of plans for the UK’s Brexit transition period that will include the right to suspend the UK’s access to the single market if it fails to comply with EU law.

In citizens’ rights news, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that UK nationals can take EU citizenship cases to the European Court of Justice. The landmark decision was welcomed by anti-Brexit campaigners.

S&D Group spokesperson for Brexit, Roberto GUALTIERI (IT) met with Teresa MAY on Thursday 8 February to discuss the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He also met with chancellor Phillip HAMMOND, Home Secretary Amber RUDD, minister for the cabinet office David LIDINGTON and David DAVIS. Following their meeting, the European deputy expressed his satisfaction to hear that both the UK prime minister and the home secretary will ensure a simple administrative procedure for the EU citizens to be granted the right of residency. He also called on more clarity on the UK’s vision about the future relationship, while he also stressed S&D group’s priority to ensure that there will be no race to the bottom on workers’ rights, environmental protections or on tax post-Brexit.

In a press conference on Friday 9 February, Michel BARNIER warned that if no agreement can be found on citizens’ rights, trade rules and obligations, the transition is not a given. He added that, "there are some things that are not up for negotiation because they are at the very heart of the single market". On the Ireland issue, he said that border checks are unavoidable, given the UK’s decision to leave the single market and the customs union.  Regarding citizens’ rights, he reiterated that EU citizens moving to the UK and UK citizens moving to the EU during the transition period should continue to  enjoy the same rights they currently have.

Finland: Following the election of Paula RISIKKO as Parliament’s speaker, Kai MYKKÄNEN, minister for foreign trade and development, replaced her in the ministry of the interior. Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN succeeded MYKKÄNEN.

Germany: Angela MERKEL’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their partners, the Christian Social Union (CSU) reached a coalition deal with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), led by former President of the European Parliament Martin SCHULZ. The members of the SPD will vote on whether to accept the agreement or not.


 

About the author

Ifigenia Balkoura is editor of the European Union & Public Affairs Directory (EPAD).

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