Movers and Shakers | 30 October 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 outgoing MEPs, the new Vice President of the Parliament and other political groups' news, plenary's highlights, appointments in the European Commission and in public affairs, the new Dutch cabinet, Catalonia, Brexit and more.
Marju LAURISTIN (S&D, EE) left the Parliament on Thursday 26 October to return to her native Estonia, where she will serve on the Tartu city council and teach at the University of Tartu.
Ulrike LUNACEK (Greens/EFA, AT), who was Vice-President of the Parliament until 23 October will officially leave her seat on 9 November.
Following their election as MPs in the German Bundestag, Fabio DE MASI (GUE/NGL), Alexander Graf LAMBSDORFF (ALDE), Beatrix von STORCH (EFDD) and Michael THEURER (ALDE) have officially left their seats effective 23 October.
Former MEP Wolf KLINZ is expected to replace Michael THEURER and Martin SCHIRDEWAN will replace Fabio DE MASI. Former MEP Nadja HIRSCH (ALDE) is also set to return to Brussels, replacing Alexander LAMBSDORFF.
Heidi HAUTALA (Greens/EFA, FI) was elected as Vice-President of the Parliament, replacing Ulrike LUNACEK. There are still two vacant Vice-Presidents seats pending election, following the departure of Alexander Graf LAMBSDORFF (ALDE, DE) and Ildikó GÁLL-PELC (EPP, HU).
ALDE group: Edita JATULYTE joined the secretariat of the group as the new events officer.
S&D group: Richard CORBETT was elected as the new head of the UK Labour delegation, replacing Glenis WILLMOTT who retired earlier this month.
Employment and Social affairs committee (EMPL): Agnes JONGERIIUS (NL) replaced Jutta STEINRUCK (DE) as S&D group coordinator.
Alain LAMASSOURE (EPP, FR) announced that he is stepping down as member of his national “Les Republicans” party, but will remain as an EPP member. Mr LAMASSOURE was also leader of the party’s delegation in the European Parliament. His move follows the party’s decision to expel French prime minister, Edouard PHILIPPE. In his statement, LAMASSOURE cited “a painful race to the most conservative right”.
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Composition of the committees and the delegations:
John PROCTER (ECR, UK) joined the committee on the environment, public health and food safety (ENVI), replacing Rupert MATTHEWS (ECR, UK), who left the committee.
Marie-Pierre VIEU (GUE/NGL, FR) joined the committee on transport and tourism (TRAN) and the delegation to the Euro-Latin American parliamentary Assembly (D-LAT).
Stelios KOULOGLOU (GUE/NGL, EL) left the committee on transport and tourism (TRAN) and joined the committee on foreign affairs (AFET).
Mireille D'ORNANO (EFDD, FR) joined the delegation for relations with Mercosur (D-MER), replacing Sophie MONTEL (EFDD, FR), who left the committee.
Florian PHILIPPOT (EFDD, FR) joined the committee on budgets (BUDG).
Glyphosate ban: MEPs voted to ban the controversial herbicide by 2022 over fears that it causes cancer and endorsed an immediate curb on the use of the substance. MEPs also called for EU agencies to be strengthened to enable the proper evaluation of glyphosate. Ashley FOX (ECR, UK) accused the European Commission of disregarding farmers because of its refusal to provide assurances for the availability of glyphosate when there are no readymade biological alternatives. The non-binding resolution on glyphosate passed by 355 votes to 204, with 111 abstentions.
EU members failed to reach an agreement this week. A final decision on whether the EU will renew the license for glyphosate has now been postponed until next month. Read more.
Fertilizers Regulation: Parliament has additionally adopted a report on the fertilisers regulation to boost their safety in the EU. The rules would promote recycling of substances as well as the introduction of EU-wide quality, safety and environmental criteria. Mihai ŢURCANU (EPP, RO) is Parliament's rapporteur.
Sexual harassment: In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo campaign Parliament has debated sexual harassment in Parliament and Europe and demanded that the files of 15 MEPs who have been accused of sexual harassment be opened for public scrutiny. Media reports have exposed a ‘culture of silence’ around the problem in Brussels. The debate heard that 95 per cent of women who report instances of sexual harassment are fired. This suggests that the issue runs far deeper than it seems, with women unwilling to risk their careers by speaking out. Catherine BEARDER (ALDE, UK) suggested that MEPs should take part in mandatory training to counter the problem as well as offer a guarantee to staff who report such statements that they will not lose their job. Read more.
Protection for whistle-blowers: MEPs voted a resolution to introduce EU-wide rules on whistle-blower protection by the end of the year. The Parliament concluded that current whistle-blowers need better support in their role in revealing serious violations of the public interest, such as corruption and tax avoidance. MEPs also urged all EU countries to introduce measures to facilitate the work and safety of whistle-blowers. The non-legislative resolution was backed with 399 votes to 101, with 166 abstentions. Virginie ROZIERE (S&D, FR) is Parliament's rapporteur.
Border security checks: MEPs voted through a draft law to strengthen security checks at EU borders. The new Entry/Exit System will provide EU members with a common electronic system to speed up checks at the Schengen area’s external borders and to register all non-EU travellers. The system will make it easier to monitor people on short stays in EU countries. Data will also be made available to Europol so that terrorists and other criminals hiding behind a false identity can be more easily detected. The draft law passed by 477 votes to 139, with 50 abstentions. Agustín DIAZ DE MERA (EPP, ES) is the rapporteur.
Rule of law and money laundering in Malta: In the wake of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a leading Maltese journalist who had investigated alleged financial wrongdoing by her country’s government, MEPs agreed to send a delegation to the island to look into alleged cases of money laundering and corruption. There will also be a plenary debate and resolution on the rule of law and money laundering in the Malta on 14 November. Read more.
Daphne Caruana Galizia murder: MEPs observed a minute’s silence in the presence of Ms Caruana Galizia’s family. They unanimously praised the Maltese journalist’s stand for the rule of law and important role in enabling democracy. MEPs debated the protection of journalists and the defence of media freedom and concluded that wider EU action is needed to tackle what is becoming a common problem. The European Parliament’s Strasbourg press room will be named after Ms Caruana Galizia.
Get to know:
Marek PLURA (EPP, PL) in 5 questions. Mr PLURA is member of the committee on employment and social affairs (EMPL) and the delegation to the EU-Turkey joint parliamentary committee (D-TR).
2018 Working programme:
During the Parliament’s plenary session, President Jean-Claude JUNCKER announced the Commission’s work programme for 2018, the last year it will propose new legislation before the European elections in 2019. It includes 26 new initiatives, as well as 66 pending proposals and ongoing legislative negotiations which it would like agreement on by December 2018.
The programme’s financial and economic targets include completion of a Monetary, Capital Markets and Banking Union, the separation of the EU budget for the single currency area and the appointment of a new Eurozone Finance Minister who will be democratically accountable. The Commission aims to deliver on the Circular Economy Action Plan imminently and implement the Multi-annual financial framework (MFF) and a sustainable European future initiative with a view to 2025. To improve the fairness of the internal market, the Commission will make recommendations to find new ways to tax tech giants, tackle differences in food quality across the supply chain and introduce a social fairness package. The Commission intends to make progress in Single Market law-making more efficient by 2025.
The work programme will make proposals to complete the Energy and Security Union, setting new climate targets for 2030 and introducing a new EU Civil Protection Mechanism. By 2025, the Commission wants the extension of the tasks on the new Public Prosecutor’s Office and the rule of law to be underway.
The Commission aims to continue delivering its Global Strategy, its Trade for All Strategy and EU Agenda on Migration. The extension of credible EU enlargement will advance as will the goal to increase efficiency in implementing the Common Foreign Policy both with a view to 2025. The planned expansion of the EU will be concurrent with increased communication on how to make the Union more united, democratic and efficient.
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European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF):
Director-General: Giovanni KESSLER has left to take up his new position as Head of the Italian Customs and Monopoly Agency, leaving OLAF's Principal Adviser, Nicholas ILETT, as acting Director-General.
Unit 0.2 - Budget and HR Business Correspondent: Jacky MARTEAU becomes Head of Unit 0.2, taking over from her Deputy Ludo BEDEER who held the role on an acting basis. Ms BEDEER was previously Head of Unit in the Management of Real Estate Office.
Directorate C – Investigation Support: Konstantinos BOVALIS replaces his deputy Vasile DUMITRESCU as Head of Unit C5, who held the role on an acting basis. BOVALIS joins from the Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT) where he was a Deputy Head of Unit.
Directorate D – Policy: Maria NTZIOUNI-DOUMAS joins as Adviser, a position that was previously vacant. Ms. NTZIOUNI-DOUMAS was previously Deputy Head of Unit in Unit D2.
Interview with Commissioner BIEŃKOWSKA:
European internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elżbieta BIEŃKOWSKA shares her plans in an interview with the Parliament Magazine, for boosting the EU’s industrial competitiveness, avoiding another dieselgate scandal and keeping up with disruptive technology. Read the interview
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European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO): Vice President and head of group public affairs of Telia Company, Philip MALLOCH was elected as new chairman of the executive board, as of January 2018 for one year-term, replacing Steven TAS.
Federation of European Social Employers (FESE): was launched on 20 October. Gregor TOMSCHIZEK was elected as president.
SESAR Deployment Alliance (SDA): Nicolas WARINSKO was appointed as General Manager. In his new duties, Mr WARISKO will be focusing on the transition of SDA to become a legal entity (non-for-profit international organisation) in January 2018. Prior to his appointment, he was deputy managing director and director of technical operations at SDA.
Spinelli Group: Former MEP Andrew DUFF was elected as president.
News in a nutshell:
Brexit: According to an article, published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, UK prime minister Theresa MAY "was begging for help" during a dinner with European Commission president Jean-Claude JUNCKER last week. The article also claimed that JUNCKER described Mrs May to his fellow colleagues as "anxious, despondent and sleep-deprived". JUNCKER dismissed the claims and said he was "shocked" by them. Read more.
Brexit secretary of state David DAVIS stated that MPs might not vote on the final deal until after Brexit. Mr DAVIS said EU leaders would have to decide how quickly they wanted to processed, but that a deal could be done at the “59th minute of the 11th hour”. Theresa MAY though slapped down DAVIS for his statements and insisted the vote would come before the withdrawal date.
A senior HRMC civil servant warned MPs during a debate at the public accounts committee that a no deal outcome would cost "£450m and 5000 extra staff." Read more.
Former UK envoy to the EU, Sir Ivan ROGERS, who resigned at the start of the year, said that the EU will not offer the UK a bespoke trade deal and claimed that the Government had been "screwed" over the sequencing of negotiations by rushing to trigger Article 50. Read more.
Addressing the MEPs during the plenary session in Strasbourg, the European Council President Donald TUSK highlighted the importance of the EU27 unity, while he said that “it’s up to London to decide how the negotiations will end”, giving three options: deal, no deal, no Brexit.
The EU withdrawal bill will be debated at committee stage on 14 November, it was announced. The bill has a guaranteed eight days of scrutiny at the third stage, with the 15 November also earmarked for debate. Read more.
Austria: Likely next Chancellor Sebastian KURZ was given order from the Austrian President to form a government, following the elections held on 15 October. KURZ has already held coalition talks with the far-right Freedom Party and would meet with the leader of Social Democrats, Christian KERN and hopes to form a new government by Christmas.
Catalonia: Following the declaration of independence of Catalonia, the Spanish government took control of the region. The Catalan parliament was dissolved, while elections were called on 21 December. Deputy prime minister Soraya SAENZ DE SANTAMARIA was appointed in charge of the region, replacing president of the Catalan government, Carles PUIGDEMONT.
Netherlands: The new Dutch government was sworn in on Thursday 26 October after a seven-month political deadlock. The new cabinet is composed of 16 ministers and 8 state secretaries, while four ministries have two ministers. Halbe ZIJLSTRA replaced Bert KOENDERS as foreign minister. Wopke HOEKSTRA took over Jeroen DIJSSELBLOEM in the ministry of finance.
Poland: Prime minister Beata SZYDŁO announced that she will reshuffle her cabinet in due time.