Movers and Shakers | 19 November 2018
Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.
Today's Movers & Shakers are about: which MEPs are leaving the Parliament and who their successors are, plenary session’s highlights, latest appointments in the European Commission and public affairs, Brexit and more.
Composition of the Parliament:
Bogdan WENTA (EPP, PL) left the European Parliament following his election as the Mayor of Kielce and he will be replaced by former MEP Bogusław SONIK. WENTA was the EPP group coordinator for the Committee on Development (DEVE), as well as a member of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) and the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (D-ACP).
Karlis SADURSKIS (EPP, LT) is expected to succeed Artis PABRIKS in the European Parliament. He is the Latvian Minister of Education and Science and has previously served as an MEP from 2011 to 2014.
Ralph PACKET (ECR, BE) will replace Sander LOONES, who was appointed as the new Federal Minister for Defense.
Composition of the political groups:
Emmanuel MAUREL (FR) has joined the GUE/NGL group, having sat as a non-attached member for a short period after he left the S&D group.
Composition of the committees and delegations:
Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR): following the adoption of its final report, the mandate of the committee came to an end on 13 November. See below.
Cabinet of the President:
Marco RICORDA joined the cabinet as Social Media Manager. He previously held the same position in ALDE group.
Future of Europe debate: German Chancellor Angela MERKEL addressed the plenary session and discussed the future of Europe. The debated was attended by the President of European Commission, Jean-Claude JUNCKER. MERKEL highlighted that solidarity is integral part of the European DNA and the importance of staying united through a number of challenges, such as public debt, terrorism, wars being waged close to Europe, migration, digitalisation and climate change. She added that the EU should speak with one voice on the global stage and establish its own European army, as an addition to NATO.
Telecomms package: On 14 November MEPs debated and adoptedthe provisional agreement reached with the Council of Ministers back in June on the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC). The adopted texts will be made available here.
The new law foresees that the Member states will have to facilitate the rollout of 5G by establishing suitable spectrum available to reach the objective of the "EU 5G Roadmap" of having a 5G network in at least one major city in each EU country by 2020. The new legislation set a cap on calls to another EU country at 19 cents and at 6 cents for text messages as of 15 May 2019, offers improved predictability for investment and promotes risk and cost-sharing among telecom operators. It will also help protect smartphone users, including users of web-based services, and strengthens security requirements, including encryption. Pilar DEL CASTILLO VERA (EPP, ES) and Evžen TOŠENOVSKÝ (ECR, CZ) are the rapporteurs of the European Electronic Communications Code and BEREC respectively.
Multiannual plan for fisheries in the Adriatic Sea: The plan was adopted by 342 votes to 295 with 24 abstentions and proposes when small pelagic fish, such as anchovy and sardine, can be caught in the Adriatic Sea. According to the plan, catch limits of small pelagics should return to the 2014 levels for 2019 and then reduced by 4 per cent annually. Fishing vessels which will comply with the new rules will be exceptionally allowed to apply to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to get financial support up to 15 per cent above the existing ceiling. Negotiations with the Council will start once it has agreed on its position.
CO2 emissions cuts for trucks: MEPs adopted Bas EICKHOUT’s (Greens/EFA, NL) proposed changes to the first-ever Commission proposal for a Regulation to set up CO2 emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles. The MEPs voted in favour of a 20 per cent emission reduction for 2025 and 35 per cent target for 2030. The adopted text also proposes a benchmark for low- and zero-emission vehicles of 5 per cent in 2025 and 20 per cent in 2030, to incentive manufacturers to make the shift to new technologies. The Parliament’s position as adopted on November 14 constitutes the basis for trialogues with the Council and the Commission.
Rail Passenger rights: The plenary adopted its position on the recast of the Rail Passenger Rights Regulation. Drafted by Bogusław LIBERADZKI (S&D, PL), the adopted text proposes to increase the compensation in case of delays to 100 per cent of the ticket price for a delay of over two hours. It also proposes to reduce from 48 to 12 hours the pre-notification period for assistance in stations for disabled persons or those with reduced mobility (DPRMs) and abolish the need of pre-notification in stations with daily traffic of at least 10,000 passengers. The proposal removes the force majeure clause, which according to the rapporteur, allowed for some exemptions that weakened passengers’ rights.
Renewables and energy efficiency: Parliament backed the provisional agreement that was reached with the Council in June on energy efficiency, renewables and governance of the Energy Union, which are part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package. The energy efficiency should improve by 32.5 per cent in the EU by 2030, while the renewables should make up 32 per cent of energy consumption by 2030. Miroslav POCHE (S&D, CZ) is Parliament’s rapporteur on the energy efficiency and José BLANCO LÓPEZ (S&D, ES) rapporteur on the renewables.
Fighting terrorism: The special committee on terrorism adopted its final report, which lists a number of proposed measures to be taken by the EU in order to improve its response to the terrorist threats, prevent radicalisation and terrorist financing, exchange information and protect external borders, reinforce judicial cooperation among member states and address the issue of the rights of the victims of terrorism. Monika HOHLMEIER (EPP, DE) and Helga STEVENS (ECR, BE) are the co-rapporteurs. The report will be voted in December’s plenary session.
On Tuesday 13 November, ECR group voted to endorse the candidature of Jan ZAHRADIL (CZ) as the Conservative Spitzenkandidat.
Ahead of the European elections in May 2019, the European Parliament President unveiled a new website, called “what EU does for me” which aims to demonstrate the positive impact on EU citizens’ lives and in their regions, while a section is devoted in examples of EU actions for its citizens.
Secretariat-General: Cosmin DOBRAN has departed as Head of Unit, Employment, Education, Social Affairs & Health due to being seconded to the Romanian Presidency of the European Council. No replacement has yet been appointed.
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European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM): Luc LALLEMAND, CEO of the Belgian Infrastructure Manager Infrabel was elected as Vice-President.
EU Specialty Food Ingredients: Dominique SPELEERS was re-appointed President. Marie-Laure Empinet was also re-appointed Vice-President and Bernd HABER was appointed Treasurer.
Fourtold: Darren ENNIS, former EU Advisor and Reuters Correspondent joined the team as Senior Advisor.
News in a nutshell:
Brexit: The UK and the EU reached an agreement at technical level last week. The European Commission published a factsheet which summarises the main points of the draft agreement. A special factsheet was also published explaining what was agreed on the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The UK Prime Minister won the backing of her cabinet, after a five-hour meeting. In a press conference, she said that “the decisions were not taken lightly but I believe it is a decision that is firmly in the national interest. When you strip away the detail the choice before us was clear. This deal, which delivers on the vote of the referendum, which brings back control of our money laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs security and our Union, or leave with no deal, or no Brexit at all?" However, she admitted that there would be “difficult days ahead”.
The unveil of the deal sparked anger in the UK cabinet and triggered a flurry of resignations. Brexit Secretary Dominic RAAB resigned, citing that he cannot support the deal as it presents a very real threat to the integrity of the UK and that the EU holds a veto over the UK’s exit in the indefinite backstop. Theresa MAY asked Michael GOVE to become the new Brexit Secretary, but he turned it down. He confirmed though that he will stay on as the Environment Secretary. Among other Ministers who resigned is Shailesh VARA, who was the Northern Ireland Minister. Keep track of all ministerial changes with the PoliticsHome live update.
Business groups welcomed the draft agreement after fearing of crashing out of the EU without a deal. Deputy leader of the Labour party Tom WATSON said that another EU referendum is now more likely than it has ever been before. Read his interview with the House Magazine.
Theresa MAY gave a press conference at Downing Street after she addressed the House of Commons, and defended the deal she reached with the EU, saying that “I believe with every fibre of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people”. She also rejected calls to quit, saying that "I believe this is a deal which is in the national interest. And am I going to see this through? Yes."
The agreement sparked anger in Scotland too with First Minister Nicola STURGEON pointing out during her call with Theresa MAY that there is no single mention of Scotland in the text, putting the country at a serious competitive disadvantage. Prior to this, Scottish Tories warned Theresa MAY not to betray fishermen, amid fears that European trawlers could still have access to UK water post Brexit.
On the EU side, following the reach of the agreement, Jean-Claude JUNCKER wrote to President of the European Council Donald TUSK to recommend that decisive progress has been marked. In a press conference with Michel BARNIER, TUSK announced that if nothing extraordinary happens, a European Summit will be held on 25 November at 9.30 am CET to formalize and finalise the Brexit agreement.
European Parliament’s negotiator, Guy VERHOFSTADT (ALDE, BE) welcomed the draft Brexit agreement. Speaking at the briefing in Strasbourg on 15 Novemebr, said he “really regrets” Brexit and that a “big and important nation is leaving the EU,” and he described the deal as an “important achievement” whose “key points” were that it “minimises disruption on both sides” and “avoids a hard border in Ireland.” Read the reactions of the UK MEPs.
President Antonio TAJANI reaffirmed Parliament’s commitment to monitor and scrutinise the developments.
Sweden: Annie LÖÖF has been asked by the Speaker of the Swedish Parliament to explore how she might be able to form a government, after Moderate Party leader Ulf KRISTERSSON was defeated in Parliament on 14 November.