Movers and Shakers | 20 March 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 MEP awards, the plenary's highlights, latest appointments in the Commission, the new European association and latest developments in public affairs, the new UK deputy permanent representative, the Dutch elections and the re-election of the Hungarian President, Brexit and more.
The MEP Awards now in its 13th anniversary, are well attended by representatives of the wider EU community, who gather with us annually to recognise the achievements of MEPs. This year will prove to be no exception, and provides an opportunity to both reflect and commend the efforts of MEPs across a multitude of policy areas in the face of unprecedented challenges.
We look forward to welcoming you at the awards.
Sanctions for sexist comments: President Antonio TAJANI (EPP, IT) announced unprecedented sanctions against Janusz KORWIN-MIKKE (NI, PL) for his remarks during a gender pay gap debate. Korwin-Mikke had declared women should be paid less because they are smaller, weaker and less intelligent than men. The MEP will lose his daily subsistence allowance for 30 days, will be suspended from parliamentary activities for 10 days, except for voting and will be prohibited from representing the Parliament for one year. The severity of punishment is commensurate with the gravity of the offence, TAJANI told MEPs. Read more.
Two speed EU: Speaking in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Parliament’s S&D group leader Gianni PITTELLA (IT) warned about the dangers of an “à la carte Europe” emerging in the coming years, while he also raised concerns, post-Brexit about the future of the EU citizens living in the UK. PITTELLA said, “We don’t want an à la carte Europe developing. That would divide Europe into first and second class players with some moving ahead quickly and others lagging behind. A two speed Europe should not be the choice.” Read more.
President Jean-Claude JUNCKER hit back during his speech in the plenary session, denying calling for a two speed EU. "I repeat again that this is not about a two speed Europe. To say so is a misreading of the White Paper. Nor is this about creating a new iron curtain between the east and west in Europe but, rather, it is about deeper EU integration and enhanced cooperation”, he said. Read more.
Turkish accession talks: Parliament’s EPP group leader Manfred WEBER (DE) has again called for a freeze on talks over Turkish accession to the EU. His call comes amid a sharp decline in relations between the two sides in recent days, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN likening the Netherlands to “a banana republic.” Read more. ALDE group leader Guy VERHOFSTADT (BE) echoed WEBER’s call and accused ERDOĞAN of cynicism for advocating freedom of speech while journalists are imprisoned in Turkey. "He points a finger at our countries, including the Netherlands, but look at what is happening in his own country. It is good that we condemn this but let's freeze the accession talks with Turkey now. To negotiate with someone like this is unacceptable," he said. Read more.
Conflict of minerals: MEPs endorsed the agreement reached with the Council on a draft regulation for a supply chain due diligence on minerals originating in conflict-affected areas. A debate was held the day before, when MEPs welcomed the new rules, but cautioned that proper implementation of the regulation is necessary for it to bear fruit on the ground. Read Dods EU Monitoring's briefing.
Circular economy package: Parliament adopted four reports on the circular economy package, including four separate directives on waste, landfills, packaging and vehicles, and battery and electronic equipment recycling. The report set ambitious targets, introducing separate targets for reuse, food waste, marine litter and waste oils, introducing a single calculation method and making derogations for individual member states subject to stricter conditions. The adopted reports are now referred to the ENVI Committee to start the inter-institutional negotiations with the Council and the Commission. Simona BONAFE (S&D, IT) is Parliament’s rapporteur on the report.
Farmed rabbit welfare: MEPs have voted to back measures to improve farmed rabbit welfare, which ending the use of battery cages. The measures were supported by 410 MEPs with 205 against. The Commission will now be requested to initiate new legislation with minimum standards for the protection farmed rabbits. Read more. The measures were supported by German GUE/NGL group MEP Stefan Eck. Speaking after the vote in Strasbourg, he said Parliament had "rewritten history."
Composition of committees and delegations:
Michał BONI (EPP, PL) joined the committee on constitutional affairs (AFCO).
Julia PITERA (EPP, PL) left the committee of petitions (PETI) and joined the committee on foreign affairs (AFET).
Jacek SARYUSZ-WOLSKI (EPP, PL) left the committee on foreign affairs (AFET) and joined the committee of petitions (PETI).
Victor NEGRESCU (S&D, RO) joined the committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion (PANA), replacing Cătălin Sorin IVAN (S&D, RO).
Nils TORVALDS (ALDE, FI) left the delegation for relations with Switzerland and Norway and to the EU-Iceland joint parliamentary committee and the European Economic Area (EEA) joint parliamentary Committee (D-EEA).
Arndt KOHN (S&D, DE) joined the delegation to the EU-Albania stabilisation and association parliamentary committee (D-AL), replacing Jutta STEINRUCK (S&D, DE).
Vicky MAEIJER (ENF, NL) left the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE) and joined the committee on budgets (BUDG).
Raymond FINCH (EFDD, UK) joined the committee on regional development (REGI), replacing Bill ETHERIDGE (EFDD, UK).
Auke ZIJLSTRA (ENF, NL) left the committee on budgets (BUDG) and joined the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE).
Frank ENGEL (EPP, LU) joined the delegation to the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly (D-ACP).
Francesc GAMBÚS (EPP, ES) joined the delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb Union (D-MAG).
Jens ROHDE (ALDE, DK) joined the committee on legal affairs (JURI).
Directorates General and Services:
Directorate A – Energy Policy: Megan RICHARDS has been appointed as Director, replacing Mechthild WÖRSDÖRFER as of 1 April 2017. Ms RICHARDS will join DG ENER from DG CNECT where she is Principle Adviser.
Directorate C – Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency: As of 1 April, Mechthild WÖRSDÖRFER will become Director, replacing Paula ABREU MARQUES who is currently acting in the role.
Human Resources and Security (HR):
Georges BINGEN was appointed as Principle Adviser, replacing Fernando GARCIA FERREIRO who was acting in the role. Prior to this appointment Mr BINGEN was Head of Unit ‘Erasmus+, Sport, Youth and EU Aid Volunteers’ at the Education, Audiovisual and Cultural Executive Agency (EACEA). He began his new role on 16 March.
Research and Innovation (RDT):
Marc TACHELET has been appointed as Principle Adviser to be seconded as Director to the Research Executive Agency (REA). Mr TACHELET is currently Head of Department ‘Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges’ at the REA. He will take up his new role on 1 April 2017.
Secretariat General (SG):
Directorate E – Policy Co-ordination II: William SLEATH was appointed as Director, having acted in the role alongside his position as Head of Unit ‘Citizens and Security’. Mr SLEATH officially took up the role of Director on 16 March.
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI):
Hilde HARDEMAN has been appointed as Director of the FPI, replacing Robert KRENGEL who has been acting in the role. Ms HARDEMAN is currently Deputy Head in the private office of Commission Vice President Jyrki KATAINEN. She will begin her new role on 1 May 2017.
Montenegro: MEPs praised Montenegro on its continued progress towards EU accession negotiations. MEPs remain concerned about the Russian influence in the country's politics however reforms in areas such as the election process and fighting corruption are positive signs. In addition, Montenegro is set to join Nato later this year, a move that has support from the European Parliament in particular.
Cambre: Associate consultants won the top prize and third place in the John Houston Essay Contest organised on 16 March by the European Public Affairs Consultancies’ Association (EPACA). François BARRY was the winner and Andrea TOGNONI came third in the competition whose theme this year was “A world of distrust: how does it affect Public Affairs?”
EDSO for smart grids: Roberto ZANGRANDI was appointed as the new Secretary General. Since 2015 Mr ZANGRANDI has been special adviser of EDSO on secondment from Enel, where he guided their EU Institutional Affairs office in Brussels between 2007 and 2014.
Got any new appointment you would like us to include in our next newsletter? Contact Ifigenia Balkoura!
Institute of Directors (IoD): Mark Cunningham was appointed as the new chairman. In his new role, Mark will be focusing on growing IoD’s membership, both Belgian and British business people with the opportunity to grow their organisations.
Metal Packaging Europe: Beverage Can Makers Europe (BCME) and European Metal Packaging (Empac) announced their merger into one association, named after the former Metal Packaging Europe, which also forms part of the new association. The new European association will bring together national associations, suppliers and manufacturers to promote metal packaging. APEAL, the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging welcomed the launch.
News in a nutshell:
Brexit: The final countdown for Theresa MAY to trigger Brexit talks has now started after Downing Street confirmed on Monday that the prime minister will trigger Article 50 on 29 March. Earlier last week, the Queen gave her royal assent to the Article 50 bill, while MPs voted down amendments by House of Lords to guarantee the post-Brexit rights of EU citizens’ living in the UK and to give parliament a meaningful vote on the final deal.
On Monday 13 March, First Minister Nicola STURGEON announced her intention to seek authorisation to hold a second Scottish independence referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019. "It is important that Scotland is able to exercise the right to choose our own future at a time when the options are clearer than they are now, but before it is too late to decide on our own path. By the time a choice comes to be made, there must be greater clarity about Brexit and its implications for us”, she said. Read more. She also warned the UK Government against “trying to puncture Scotland’s life boat by blocking the referendum”. Read more.
Theresa MAY ruled out a second referendum on Scottish independence until the UK has left the EU bloc, as it "wouldn't be fair" to ask Scottish people to vote on independence without knowing exactly what Brexit will mean. She added: “We should be working together, not pulling apart. Now is not the time.” Read more. STURGEON hit back, branding the prime minister “undemocratic” over the rejection. Read the exclusive interview of Nicola STURGEON with Holyrood Magazine ahead of the announcement.
Brexit Secretary David Davis raised eyebrows last Wednesday during a hearing of the Exiting the European Union committee, when he admitted the government had not assessed the impact of leaving the EU without a trade deal. “I can’t quantify it for you yet. I may well be able to do so in a year’s time. It’s not as frightening as some people think, but it’s not as simple as some people think”, he said. Read more.
Hungary: János ÁDER was re-elected as President for a second five-year term.
Netherlands: The centre-right VVD party of prime minister Mark RUTTE won most of the seats in the elections held on Wednesday 15 March. The result came as a relief to many European leaders. The anti-immigration and anti-EU Party for Freedom of Geert WILDERS came second with 20 seats, while the Labour party suffered a humiliating defeat, as it managed to secure only 9 out of the 38 seats it previously had. Coalition talks are being held to form a new government.