Movers and Shakers | 31 May 2019
Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.
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The moment we had all been waiting for has finally arrived as many months of campaigning culminate in the formation of the new European Parliament; and with a new Parliament comes a fresh set of parliamentarians. With over two-thirds of MEPs newly elected, we’ve seen significant shifts in the composition of Parliament with all party groups facing upheaval. Most notably, the European People’s Party and Socialists and Democrats haemorrhaged votes to the liberals, Greens and nationalists, thus losing their combined majority. However, the ‘populist, anti-EU wave’ didn’t materialise in the way that many feared it would.
Both Nigel FARAGE (UK), leader of the Brexit Party (EFDD) and Fidesz’s Viktor ORBÁN (EPP, HU) have intimated that they will not be joining the ENF Parliament group led by the League’s Matteo SALVINI. FARAGE has said that he will only accept SALVINI’s offer if his current EFDD group does not manage to find one last delegation needed to maintain its group in the Parliament, while ORBÁN’s chief of staff said there was “not much chance for a cooperation on a party level or in a joint parliamentary group”.
All eyes are now firmly on the new liberal alliance in Parliament. Emmanuel MACRON’s En Marche party has merged with the ALDE. The new group as it stands, has a provisional total of 108 seats, 39 more than the former ALDE.
As leader of the largest group in the new Parliament, Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE) was quick to lay claim to the top job of Commission President. However, the road to nabbing this role will not be plain sailing and Council President Donald TUSK has confirmed that there would be “no automaticity” in the selection process.
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Energy (DG ENER)
Ditte Juul JØRGENSEN has been appointed the next Directorate-General of Energy, leaving her current role. She replaces Dominique RISTORI who will retire in July.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
Berhard URL was reappointed as EFSA Executive Director and will start his second five-year term on 1 June.
Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME)
Rob ROZENBURG has left the position of Head of Unit B3 (Information Systems for Borders and Security), with Matthias OEL becoming Acting Head of Unit.
ROZENBURG instead becomes Head of Unit D1 (Police Cooperation and Information Exchange) replacing former Acting Head of Unit Cecilia VERKLEIJ.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE)
Yves VAN POEKE is the new Head of Unit C4 (Data Management); replacing former Acting Head of Unit Véronique ANGOT.
Trade (DG TRADE)
Sabine WEYAND is set to become the new Director-General of DG TRADE on 1 June, succeeding current Director-General Jean-Luc DEMARTY.
DG Translation (DGT)
Jörgen GREN is the new Director of Directorate R (Resources); replacing former Acting Director Dieter RUMMEL.
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European Court of Justice
General Court of the European Union
Seven judges were newly appointed for the period from 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2025. They are:
- Johannes LAITENBERGER (DE)
- José Martín y PÉREZ DE NANCLARES (ES)
- Rimvydas NORKUS (LT)
- Tamara PERIŠIN (HR)
- Miguel SAMPOL PUCURULL (ES)
- Petra ŠKVAŘILOVÁ-PELZL (CZ)
- Gabriele Steinfatt (DE)
Iko NÕMM (EE) was also newly appointed, however will serve a shorter term from 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2022.
The following judges were re-appointed to the General Court for the same period:
- Eugène BUTTIGIEG (MT)
- Anthony COLLINS (IE)
- Ramona FRENDO (MT)
- Colm MAC EOCHAIDH (IE)
- Jan PASSER (CZ)
- Vesna TOMLJENOVIĆ (HR)
AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD)
Eric TRAPPIER has been re-elected as president for a new one-year mandate.
Philippe MITKO has been newly elected as president replacing outgoing president Paul DELLA TOLLA. Zsolt KOCZA and Giorgio DALLA BONA have been elected as vice-presidents. They have all been elected for a two-year mandate, running until June 2021.
The Association of European Vehicle Logistics (ECG)
Current president Wolfgang GÖBEL and current vice-president Bjorn SVENNINGSEN will continue into the second year of their two-year mandate. Three new members have joined the board and they are: Serge AGNERAY, Jordi CASALS and Xavier VAZQUEZ.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)
Luca VISENTINI was re-elected as general secretary. VISENTINI has served as general secretary since first being elected in 2015. Laurent BERGER has been elected as president replacing Rudy DE LEEUW.
The European Federation of National Associations of Water Services (EurEau)
Claudia CASTELL-EXNER has been elected as president for the next two years and will take up her position as of 1 July.
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Former Chancellor, Sebastian KURZ was defeated in a confidence vote on Monday. Austrian President Alexander VAN DER BELLEN formally dissolved the government on Tuesday. The same Ministers were reappointed to a new short-term caretaker administration, pending the formation of a new non-party government to lead the country into the new elections. Finance Minister Hartwig LÖGER was appointed Acting Chancellor.
President VAN DER BELLEN announced on Thursday that current President of the Constitutional Court Brigitte BIERLEIN will be appointed as Chancellor, with her forming a non-party government that will govern until early elections in September. Several people have already been offered positions in the new government: law professor Clemens JABLONER will be Vice Chancellor and Justice Minister, and diplomat Alexander SCHALLENBERG has been offered the position of Foreign Minister.
Last Sunday’s parliamentary elections saw an increased divide between the two main regions of the country: with the far-right party Flemish Interest (ENF) making significant gains in Flanders at the expense of the more moderate New Flemish Alliance (EFA/ECR), while in Wallonia the far-left Workers Party and environmentalist party Ecolo (EGP) advanced at the expense of the mainstream French-speaking parties.
King PHILIPPE officially started the process that leads to the formation of a new government, naming current Foreign Minister Didier REYNDERS of the Reformist Movement (ALDE) and former minister Johan Vande LANOTTE of the Socialist Party Differently (PES) as informateurs. They have been requested to produce a report on the current political situation and report back on 6 June. Additionally, the King met all major party leaders in the days following the election including Flemish Interest leader Tom VAN GRIEKEN; which is the first meeting between the Monarch and a far-right party leader since 1936.
A crushing defeat for Prime Minister Alexis TSIPRAS in the European elections has forced a snap election. Opposition leader Kyriakos MITSOTAKIS called for TSIPRAS to resign on Sunday saying that it was “obvious that the country should hold national elections as soon as possible”. Under normal circumstances, TSIPRAS’ mandate would end in October of this year; however, these new events mean that an election could happen as early as 30 June.
Luigi DI MAIO, the leader of the Five Star Movement (EFDD) as well as economic development minister and deputy prime minister has won a confidence vote on his own leadership. DI MAIO had called the confidence vote after a significant defeat in the European elections.
European Court of Justice judge Egils LEVITS was elected President of Latvia by the country’s parliament. Standing as an Independent supported by the governing parties; he received the votes of 61 of the country’s 100 MPs. He will replace current President Raimonds VĒJONIS on 8 July.
Gitanas NAUSĖDA was elected President of Lithuania on Sunday, receiving 66.7% of the vote in the second round of the Presidential election. He defeated Christian Democrat-backed Ingrida ŠIMONYTĖ who had led the field in the first round but only managed 33.3% in the second round of the election. NAUSĖDA will replace current President Dalia GRYBAUSKAITĖ in July.
The Social Democratic Labour Party and Order and Justice (EFDD) have announced their intention to withdraw from their present Supply and Confidence agreement with the Farmers and Greens Union (EGP) government led by prime minister Saulius SKVERNELIS to renegotiate the arrangement. Incoming President Gitanas NAUSĖDA has said that he supports early elections, which would be necessary if no alternative government could be put together.
The head of the ruling Social Democratic Party, Liviu DRAGNEA has been jailed for corruption. Last year, DRAGNEA was found guilty of having two party members paid by a state agency for fake jobs. This news comes directly after the party suffered huge losses in the European Parliament elections.