Movers and Shakers | 29 October 2018
Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.
Today's Movers & Shakers are about: plenary session’s highlights, latest appointments in the Commission and public affairs, the Presidential elections in Ireland, Brexit and more.
Composition of the political groups:
Sylvie GODDYN (FR) has been expelled from the National Rally following her support for France Arise leader Nicolas DUPONT-AIGNAN. She has also moved from the ENF group to the EFDD group and will now sit as an Independent.
Composition of the committees and delegations:
Delegation for relations with the Andean Community: Tilly METZ (Greens-EFA, LU) joined as a member, replacing Indrek TARAND (Greens-EFA, EE).
Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Karl-Heinz FLORENZ (EPP, DE) joined as a member.
Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly: Stefan GEHROLD (EPP, DE) joined as a member, replacing Karl-Heinz FLORENZ (EPP, DE).
Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly: Tilly METZ (Greens-EFA, LU) joined as a substitute.
European Commission Work Programme 2019:
The Commission published its Working Programme on 23 October which lists its priorities, the files it will be working on, new initiatives and pending proposals. The Working Programme includes 15 new initiatives and 10 new REFIT evaluation. It also suggests 45 pending priorities proposals to be adopted, 17 out of which to be withdrawn or repealed. The Programme aims before the end of its mandate in 2019 for a new boost for jobs, growth and investment, a connected Digital Single Market, a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy, a deeper and fairer Internal Market with a strengthened industrial base, a deeper and fairer Economic and Monetary Union, a balanced and progressive trade policy to harness globalization, an area of Justice and Fundamental Rights based on mutual trust, a new policy on migration, a stronger global actor, a Union of democratic change.
Food supply chain: On October 25 the plenary voted in favour of entering into interinstitutional negotiations on the report on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain. Paolo DE CASTRO (S&D, IT) is Parliament’s rapporteur. The report aims to better protect farmers against buyers’ unfair trading practices.
Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: MEPs adopted a resolution, calling for a full audit by EU bodies on Facebook, an update on the electoral laws, measures to tackle election manipulation and an investigation by the member states of alleged misuse of online political spaces by foreign forces.
Schengen Information System: MEPs greenlighted the Schengen Information System reform (SIS). The measures to strengthen the SIS database also aim to step up the EU's fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration.
Plastics: MEPs approved the report 'Reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment', prepared by Frédérique RIES (ALDE, BE), banning single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds from 2021. They also backed rules against cigarette filters and lost fishing gear. The ban also includes oxo-plastics and certain polystyrenes, while the rules set at 25 per cent. The reported was voted with 571 votes to 53 and 34 abstentions.
EU embargo on Saudi Arabia: MEPs adopted a resolution, calling on the EU to impose an EU-wide embargo on Saudi-Arabia, following the brutal killing of journalist Jamal KHASHOGGI.
Sakharov Prize: Ukrainian film director Oleg SENTSOV, who has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for “plotting terrorist acts” against the Russian “de facto” rule in Crimea, was awarded this year’s prize for freedom of thought, it was announced. The award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg on 12 December.
Dying to Work EU campaign: Rory PALMER (S&D, UK), who is leading the campaign secured Eurostar’s support for terminally ill workers. The high-speed rail operator, which runs services from London to Belgium, France and The Netherlands via the Channel Tunnel, has committed to provide terminally ill employees with security of work, peace of mind and the right to choose the best course of action for themselves and their families, by becoming the first employer to sign up to the Dying to Work EU campaign pledge. Commenting on the news, Mr PALMER said “The Dying to Work Campaign started in the East Midlands; but protecting workers diagnosed with a terminal illness is an important issue right across the continent. That’s why I’m working together with the European Cancer Patients Coalition and the European Trades’ Union Congress to bring the campaign to the attention of European employers. I am delighted that Eurostar have added their name to the charter. Ultimately my aim is to secure recognition for terminal illness as a ‘protected characteristic’ to prevent unfair discrimination”.
Interview with Bas EICKHOUT (Greens/EFA, NL):
Bas EICKHOUT spoke to the Parliament Magazine ahead of the COP24 UN climate change conference in Poland and explained why the EU renewable policy is falling short and why EU’s policy on fossil fuels worries him more.
EICKHOUT has been an MEP since 2009 and he is Treasurer of the Parliament’s Greens/EFA group. He is member of the committee on the environment, public health and food safety. He is also running to become the Green candidate for the European Commission President in the upcoming European elections. Read the interview.
European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO):
Martin TASCHNER has been made the new Head of Unit for Eastern Neighbourhood, a role he had been acting in.
Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA):
Mario NOVA has been appointed the new Director of Directorate B (Investment and Company Reporting), replacing Acting Director Éric DUCOULOMBIER.
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Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL): has bolstered its team with two new hires. Ruaidri MACDOMHNAILL joins as Regulatory Affairs Manager and Steve CLAUS as Sustainability and Circular Economy Officer.
EIT Food: Andy ZYNGA will become the new permanent CEO on 18 November. He will take over from Filip FONTAINE, who is currently acting in the role.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): Renatte GEORGESCU was appointed as Head of Corporate & Regional Government Affairs as of 21 January 2019. In her role at GSK, Renatte will be responsible for maintaining a strong and influential presence in Brussels during a period of important political change including Brexit and the 2019 EU elections. She will be responsible for representing GSK’s agenda in the EU institutions, developing policy positions, building an influential network in Brussels and delivering targeted advocacy to progress GSK priorities. Renatte, is currently Deputy-Head of European External Affairs at Unilever.
News in a nutshell:
Brexit: Responding to Nigel FARAGE’s comments during the plenary session in Strasbourg that a hard border in Ireland as a “red herring”, European Council President Donald TUSK tweeted that “I don’t know what the result of the Brexit talks is going to be. But I know that it is the Brexiteers, who are 100% responsible for bringing back the problem of the Irish border”.
In a statement to the European Parliament, TUSK said that it was Theresa MAY who first proposed an extended transition period. This differs from MAY’s public statements, which suggested that she is significantly opposed to such a move. Additionally, recent cabinet papers leaked to the Times revealed that an extension to the transition period may last years, rather than the few months suggested by the Prime Minister. The documents suggest that a transitional arrangement may last for many years on a rolling basis, with annual renewals.
The European Parliament backed the interinstitutional agreement for the relocation of the European Banking authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Paris and Amsterdam respectively.
Mayor of London Sadiq KHAN met with EU Chief Negotiator Michel BARNIER and European Commissioner for Security Union Julian KING on Friday 26 October in Brussels to ensure that London’s needs are heard in the Brexit negotiations and also spread the message that his city is open, as he tweeted.
Germany: Chancellor Angela MERKEL will not seek re-election as chairwoman of her CDU party in December it was reported on Monday 29 October.
Ireland: Michael HIGGINS was re-elected as President for a second term.