Movers and Shakers | 2 May 2017
Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.
Today's Movers & Shakers are about: the MEPs who are running as candidates in the national elections and plenary highlights, latest appointments in the Commission and public affairs, the snap elections in Malta, the collapse of the Croatian government Brexit and more.
MEP latest news:
Ian DUNCAN (ECR) announced his candidacy for the Perth and North Perthshire seat in the UK snap elections. His fellow MEP Gerard BATTEN (EFDD) will contest Theresa MAY’s seat in Maidenhead. Ukip leader Paul NUTTALL is has also joined the race. Anneliese DODDS (S&D) will be standing as Labour candidate for Oxford East, in a seat where the incumbent Labour MP is standing down, while Vicky FORD (ECR) will contest in Chelmsford. In French elections news, Constance LE GRIP (EPP, FR) is running in the legislative elections as candidate of the Republicans.
MEPs endorsed the appointment of Ildikó GÁLL-PELCZ (EPP, HU), as a member of the European Court of Auditors by 326 votes, to 126, with 193 abstentions. The appointment needs to be approved by the Council.
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Parliament has initiated the procedure of lifting the immunity of Marine LE PEN (ENF, FR) following a request from the French prosecutor. Le Pen has been accused of misusing EU funds. French authorities have also requested the lifting of Marie-Christine BOUTONNET’s immunity.
Composition of the Advisory Committee on the Conduct Members:
The following MEPs were elected as:
Members: Danuta HÜBNER (EPP, PL), Mady DELVAUX (S&D, LU), Sajjad KARIM (ECR, UK), Jean-Marie CAVADA (ALDE, FR) and Jiří MAŠTÁLKA (GUE/NGL, CZ).
Substitutes: Heidi HAUTALA (Greens/EFA, FI), Laura FERRARA (EFDD, IT) and Gerolf ANNEMANS (ENF, BE).
Committee news and mini plenary’s highlights:
Geo-blocking: The IMCO committee voted by 30 in favour with two against on the draft geo-blocking law. Róża Gräfin von THUN UND HOHENSTEIN (EPP, PL), rapporteur of the draft, said that newly-adopted laws will increase cultural diversity in Europe. The draft rules seek to ensure that consumers buying goods from another EU country, whether online or in person, are not discriminated against on the basis of their nationality or place of residence or temporary location. Read more.
Situation in Hungary: Hungarian prime minister Viktor ORBÁN debated with the MEPs and Commissioner Frans TIMMERMANS the controversial higher education law, which allegedly undermines media pluralism, judiciary independence and targets the Central European University (CEU). ORBÁN defended his policies, while he highlighted his commitment to the EU. Read more.
Cooperation agreement between Denmark and Europol: A proposal to establish an operational and strategic cooperation agreement between Denmark and Europol was backed with 569 votes to 8, with 62 abstentions. Denmark pulled out from the EU’s justice and home affairs’ system (and consequently from Europol), following the referendum result in December 2015. Under the new agreement, Denmark will be listed as a third country with which Europol will be conducting agreements.
Greek bailout agreement: MEPs discussed the second review of the Greek package. President of the Eurogroup Jeroen DIJSSELBLOEM and economic and financial affairs Commissioner Pierre MOSCOVICI participated in the debate. MEPs urged for the conclusion of the negotiations, while DIJSSELBLOEM expressed his regret for his comments on southern eurozone member states.
Directorate A – Policy: Gilles GANTELET has been appointed Director, as of 1 May 2017. He will replace Deputy Director-General Joanna DRAKE who has been acting in the role. Mr GANTELET is currently Head of Unit 'Sustainable Development Goals Strategy'.
Research and Innovation (RDT):
Jack METTHEY became acting Deputy Director-General responsible for Directorates D, E, F, G, H and I. He replaced Ruxandra DRAGHIA-AKLI. Mr METTHEY is also Director, Directorate I – Climate Action and Resource Efficiency.
Directorate B – Open Innovation and Open Science: Stephane OUAKI was appointed Head of Unit, 'SMEs, Financial Instruments and State Aid', replacing Steve ROBERTS who was acting in the role.
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European Defence Agency (EDA):
The mandate of Jorge DOMECQ as chief executive was extended for an additional two years, starting on 1 February 2020.
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European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST): Dr Sierd A.P.L. CLOETINGH was appointed as president for a two-year mandate, starting on 21 June. He will replace Dr Ángeles RODRÍGUEZ PEÑA.
Social Platform: Jana HAINSWORTH and Maciej KUCHARCZYK were re-elected as President and Vice-President respectively.
News in a nutshell:
Brexit: Theresa MAY hosted a working dinner with Brexit negotiator Michel BARNIER and Commission President Jean-Claude JUNCKER on 26 April in London. Read more.
The European Council meeting on Brexit was held on 29 April, when EU leaders defined the EU negotiating guidelines. While it took all of 60 seconds to agree the guidelines, or 'red lines', for the upcoming Brexit talks, the EU leaders and heads of state will be all too aware that the apparent show of unity may start to fray once the serious negotiations finally begin. Read more.
On 27 April EU’s chief negotiator Michel BARNIER said, “we are ready”. Speaking to the Bundestag, German Chancellor Angela MERKEL said that the “UK would be a third country that cannot and will not have the same rights and privileges as the EU member states” and continued “I have to put this so clearly because I get the impression that some in Great Britain still have illusions about this, and that is a waste of time.” Read more.
Croatia: The coalition government between the Croatian Democratic Union and the Bridge of Independent Lists (MOST) collapsed on 27 April. The ministers for the environment, justice and the interior, who are affiliated to MOST, were dismissed after they failed to support finance minister Zdravko MARIC in a vote of confidence. Prime Minister will seek a new coalition partner or will call fresh elections.
Italy: Former Prime Minister Matteo RENZI re-elected as leader of the Democratic party.
Malta: Prime Minister Joseph MUSCAT called snap elections on 3 June. It should be noted that Malta is currently holding the EU rotating Presidency (until June).
Free roaming: The Council adopted the last requirements to abolish mobile roaming charges on Tuesday 25 April. EU citizens will enjoy free roaming as of 15 June.
US President Donald Trump arrived in Belgium on Wednesday to relatively little fanfare but with hopes high that his visit, his first overseas trip as president, could help heal EU-US relations....
MEPs have overwhelmingly backed measures that call for national parliaments to have a greater say on EU legislation.
Campaigners say that Parliament’s decision to launch a fresh crackdown on Hungary marks a clear red line on the protection of rights.
The EU must 'take the lead' in tackling alcohol-related harm, writes Mariann Skar.
As presidency candidates call for 'new start', very few concrete plans are being put forward on 'Europe's youth', says Patrik Kovács.
Who is controlling the counter-narratives to extremism? This is the question that many EU policymakers want answered, argues Tehmina Kazi.