Movers and Shakers | 18 February 2019
Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.
Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: A new UK delegation forms in the European Parliament, Highlights from this week’s plenary session, A key EPP group delegation announces their top, Top level changes at the European Commission, Early elections called in Spain, Brexit and more…
National Political Parties
Seven UK EFDD group MEPs, who were all formerly in the UK Independence Party, have joined the newly formed Brexit Party. They are former UKIP party leader Nigel FARAGE, former welsh leader Nathan GILL, former Scottish leader David COBURN, Tim AKER, Jonathan BULLOCK, Bill ETHERIDGE and Julia REID.
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Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO)
Lucy ANDERSON (S&D, UK) has joined as a member, replacing Catherine STIHLER who has recently left the Parliament. ANDERSON had previously been a substitute on the committee. STIHLER was a Vice-chair on the committee and is expected to be replaced at the next meeting on 20 February.
The European Parliament adopted the EU-Singapore free trade deal by 425 votes to 186, with 41 abstentions. The agreement will eliminate almost all tariffs between the two in the next five years, while also incorporating strengthened provisions on workers rights and environmental protection. The Parliament separately approved an investment protection arrangement with an independent court to settle disputes between investors and both the EU and Singapore, and a partnership and cooperation arrangement dealing with matters beyond the field of trade.
New, simplified rules on regional development and cohesion spending for the 2021-27 period were approved by the Parliament by 460 votes to 170 with 47 abstentions. The overall investment budget will be retained, with support given to less developed regions being increased over both the status quo and the Commission proposal. Additionally, the Parliament rejected proposals to link development funding to economic targets.
An agreement has been reached between the European Parliament and the Council on the proposed EU Copyright directive.
One of the EPP group’s largest delegations The Republicans (FR) have selected their top candidates for the European Elections. The Deputy Mayor of Versailles François-Xavier BELLAMY will top the list along with Île-de-France Vice-President Agnès EVREN and MEP Arnaud DANJEAN.
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College of Commissioners
Vytenis ANDRIUKAITIS, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, will take unpaid leave from the Commission to run in the Lithuanian Presidential election.
Communication (DG COMM)
Current Deputy Director-General Pia AHRENKILDE-HANSEN will become the new Director-General of DG COMM on the 16th March, replacing current Director-General Tima PESONEN.
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW)
Lowri EVANS will retire from the post of Director-General on the 1st March. She will be replaced by AHRENKILDE-HANSEN.
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Brian AGER has joined as a Senior Advisor, having previously been the Secretary General of the European Round Table of Industrialists for 8 years.
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News in a Nutshell
Prime Minister Theresa MAY announced plans to suspend a rule of the House of Commons requiring a 21-day period between an international treaty being agreed by the government and ratified in Parliament, opening up the possibility that a vote on a renegotiated Brexit deal could take place days before the scheduled Brexit day.
The government have been defeated in Parliament on a motion on their Brexit plan 303-258, as pro-Brexit Conservative MPs abstained. The vote is non-binding on the government.
A group of seven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party and announced their intention to form an Independent Group in Parliament in protest over the Labour Party’s attitude towards Brexit and the anti-Semitism scandal. They are Chuka UMUNNA, Mike GAPES, Luciana BERGER, Ann COFFEY, Chris LESLIE, Gavin SHUKER and Angela SMITH.
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis ANDRIUKAITIS will be the Social Democratic Party (PES) candidate for the Presidential election in May.
After the government’s budget was defeated on Thursday Prime Minister Pedro SÁNCHEZ called a General Election for the 28th April. The PSOE (PES) government had been reliant on support from left-wing alliance Unidos Podemos and New Canaries (EFA) with support on a vote-by-vote basis from a variety of Catalan nationalist parties, who voted against the government in protest over the government’s refusal to discuss Catalan independence.