Movers and Shakers | 4 June 2018
Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.
Today's Movers & Shakers are about: who is leaving the Parliament, plenary session's highlights, latest appointments in the Commission and public affairs, the elections in Slovenia, the new Italian cabinet and the new Spanish Prime Minister, Brexit and more.
Claude TURMES (Greens/EFA, LU) will leave his seat in the European Parliament to become the new secretary of state for environment in his native Luxembourg in mid/end June, replacing Camille GIRA, who recently passed away. Tilly METZ will succeed him in Brussels. Mr TURMES has been an MEP since 1999 and his parliamentary work has focused on CO2 emissions from heavy duty vehicles among other things. He was also Parliament’s rapporteur on the Energy Union Governance.
Composition of the political groups:
James CARVER (UK) left the EFDD group and now sits as an independent MEP. He also resigned from Ukip. Mr CARVER explained that he “now finds himself increasingly out of kilter with the party”, adding that he has “no desire to engage in a public spat that would only serve to further the agenda of Ukip’s political opponents and those trying to halt the UK’s exit from the EU.
Bernard MONOT (FR) left the ENF group and joined the EFDD group. He also left the Front National and joined Debout la France.
Marlene MIZZI (S&D, MT) announced that she will not seek re-election in next year’s European elections. She recently participated in Parliament Magazine’s five questions column. Get to know her.
MEPs will discuss the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breaches at a civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee hearing on 4 June, following MEPs’ meeting with Facebook CEO Mark ZUCKERBERG.
“Blockchain applications: A view from the European Parliament” event: Eva KAILI (S&D, EL), Ivan Cătălin SORIN (S&D, RO), Antanas GUOGA (EPP, LT) and Sorin MOISA (EPP, RO) will host an event on Wednesday 6 June on blockchain, discussing blockchain adoption and its next steps, DLT standards and ICOs and whether blockchain is disrupting or enabling banking. The full agenda can be found here. To register click here.
European Youth Event (EYE):
On Friday 1 June, President Antonio TAJANI opened the 2018 event that gathers more than 8000 young Europeans between 16 and 30 years old in Strasbourg, where they debated the future of Europe. TAJANI and 50 MEPs participated in workshops and debates, the conclusions of which will be included in the EYE report. The best ideas will be presented during a special youth hearing in Parliament after the summer recess.
Composition of committees and delegations:
Giuseppe FERRANDINO (S&D, IT) joined the delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (D-LAT).
Verónica LOPE FONTAGNÉ (EPP, ES) joined the committee on budgets (BUDG).
Giuseppe FERRANDINO (S&D, IT) joined the delegation for relations with the countries of the Andean Community (D-AND).
Ana MIRANDA (Greens/EFA, ES) joined the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE).
Plenary session’s highlights:
Future of Europe debate: Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier BETTEL was the latest to appear in plenary to discuss the future of Europe with MEPs. He warned of the danger of “pushing the UK even further away” after it leaves the EU next March.
Precarious employment practices: MEPs backed a resolution calling on the European Commission and the EU member states to combat precarious employment practices, such as zero-hour contracts and abusive use of fixed-term contracts and also workplace inspections. The resolution calls for the workers on zero-hour contracts to be subject to the EU Working Time Directive and denounced the renewal of fixed-term contracts. It urges the member states to improve job standards in non-conventional jobs and asses the rules linked to precarious work related to its gender impact.
Posting of workers: The Parliament backed the revised rules on the posting of workers by 456 votes to 147, with 49 abstentions. Under the new rules, the duration of the posting is set to maximum 12 months with the possibility of a six-month extension, the remuneration rules in the host country should apply to posted workers as well, while accommodation, board and travel costs should be paid by the employer. Member states now have two years to incorporate the new rules into their national legislation. Elisabeth MORIN-CHARTIER (EPP, FR) is Parliament’s rapporteur.
Fisheries imports: In a non-binding resolution adopted on Wednesday 30 May, MEPs said that all imported fisheries and aquaculture products should comply with the EU law standards regarding the conservation, management standards and hygiene requirements. The extension of control measures to non-EU products would boost the fair competition and help third countries to meet the Union’s standards. The resolution invited the European Commission to look into creating a label to identify the EU’s fishery products. Linnéa ENGSTRÖM (Greens/EFA, SE) is Parliament’s rapporteur.
North Sea fisheries: MEPs approved a new EU multiannual plan designed to prevent overfishing in the North Sea. MEPs have given a mixed response to a new EU multiannual plan designed to prevent overfishing in the North Sea. In a vote on Tuesday, they voted on the trialogue outcome on the multiannual management plan for the North Sea. Read more.
Against unfair competition: The plenary backed a December 2017 informal agreement to impose higher tariffs on dumped or subsidised imports to protect EU jobs and businesses in cases of unfair trade practices from non-EU countries. Under the agreement the duration of investigations into anti-dumping cases will be shorter, a help-desk for SMEs will be dealing with complaints and investigate proceedings. The regulation will cover continental shelves and economic exclusive zones. Products arriving into the EU will be monitored and registered to avoid stockpiling and the costs for EU industry resulting from international labour and environmental agreements will be taken into consideration for the calculation of the duties. Christofer FJELLNER (EPP, SE) is Parliament’s rapporteur.
Tribute: MEPs observed a minute silence to former Parliament President Nicole FONTAINE, who passed away on 17 May.
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Cabinet of Elżbieta BIEŃKOWSKA: Andrzej Tomasz CELIŃSKI was appointed as new member of the cabinet. He will be in charge of the relations with the European Parliament and the provision of overall assessment and support in policy and communication strategy.
Cabinet of Federica MOGHERINI: Stefano GRASSI joined the team as new head of cabinet, replacing Fabrizia PANZETTI who joined the cabinet of Udo BULLMANN (S&D, DE) as chief of staff. Mr GRASSI was previously institutional adviser in President JUNCKER’s cabinet.
Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI):
Directorate C – Strategy, simplification and policy analysis: Christina GERSTGRASSER was appointed new head of monitoring and evaluation, replacing Yves PLEES who was acting in the role.
Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN):
Secretariat of the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) and of the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and Policy Committee and Eurogroup/EWG – Former head of the Secretariat of the EFC and EPC Annika MELANDER has been replaced by current secretary Stefan PFLÜGER, who will be acting in the role.
Research and Innovation (RTD):
Directorate B – Open Innovation and Open Science: Head of open science and ERA policy Fabienne GAUTIER has also been appointed to occupy the role of head of open innovation, replacing Matthew KING. KING will be now in charge of the text and data mining unit at the Joint Research Centre (JRC)'s Dir I – Competences (Ipra).
Marlene Rosemarie MADSEN was appointed as acting head of revenue administration and public financial management of the structural reform support service, replacing Riccardo ERCOLI, who was also acting in the role.
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Association of European Vehicle Logistics (ECG): During its annual General Assembly the association’s delegates re-elected the board. Wolfgang GÖBEL was re-elected as President for a second two-year term. Mats ERIKSSON stepped down as Vice-President but will continue to sit on the board.
The following were re-elected as members of the board for a one-year term: Marc ADRIANSENS (ICO), Costantino BALDISSARA (Grimaldi Group), Michael BÜNNING (BLG Automobile Logistics), Krzysztof DAKOWICZ (Adampol), René EISBRICH (Lagermax), Ömer GÜRSOY (Me-Par), Jon KUIPER (Koopman Logistics Group) and Christian LANG (DB Cargo Logistics).
Olivier BENGUIGUI (STVA), Marcos DUATO (Flota Suardiaz), Ray MACDOWALL (ECM Vehicle Delivery Services) and Agustin FERNANDEZ (UECC Iberica) stepped down as members of the board and were replaced by Bjorn SVENNINGSEN (UECC), who was elected as Vice-President for a two-year term, Jean-Michel FLORET (Groupe CAT), Mark HINDLEY (BCA) and Paul STEININGER (Hödlmayr International AG).
European Biodiesel Board (EBB): Kristell GUIZOUARN succeeded Alain BRINON as president.
European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO): Jan KLINGELE was re-elected as president and Jean-Paul MACHARIS as Vice-President for a two-year term. Saverio MAYER was elected as Vice-President and Nina IVERSEN as honorary Vice-President.
European Food Banks Federation (FEBA): During its General Assembly on 26 May in Budapest, Jacques VANDENSCHRIK was re-elected as president. Jacques BAILET was elected as Vice-President, Karen-Inger THORSEN as secretary and Tom HILLEMANS as treasurer. Balazs CESH, Jochen BRÜHL, Malgorzata LELONKIEWICZ, Marco LUCCHINI and Pedro CASTAÑOS RUIZ were elected as members of the board of directors.
European Plastics Converters (EuPC): Renato ZELCHER was elected as the new president for the period 2018-2020, replacing Micheal KUNDEL.
Natural & bio Gas Vehicle Association (NGVA Europe): Philippe VAN DEVEN, who had previously served as a senior Vice-President, was elected as the new president. Timm KEHLER replaces him as senior Vice-President, while Nadège LECLERCQ was appointed as secretary of the board of directors.
UBS: Former European Commissioner for financial stability, financial services and capital markets union Lord Jonathan HILL was appointed as senior advisor. In his new role he will be advising the bank’s corporate clients on Brexit.
His appointment sparked anger among transparency campaigners, who say that this could pave the way for a potential conflict of interest.
News in a nutshell:
Brexit: EU chief negotiator Michel BARNIER met with Nicola STURGEON on Monday 28 May. The Scottish first minister reaffirmed Scotland’s commitment to continue collaboration, friendship and partnership with the EU. Mrs STURGEON visited Scotland House to participate in its relaunch, following its recent expansion and discussed the importance of continued pro-active EU engagement. She also underlined her government’s position on the UK’s membership in the single market. She also called on the UK Prime Minister Theresa MAY to “concede” to joining the customs union to break the Brexit deadlock, as the UK’s position is “unsustainable”.
Prior to his meeting with the first minister, BARNIER delivered a speech at the 28th Congress of the International Federation for European Law (FIDE), where he talked about the need to reach an agreement on the governance of the Withdrawal Agreement, which should include a jurisdictional system of dispute settlement and to find a solution to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and the framework of the future relationship with the UK. He called on the UK to clarify its position on the customs union, and he mentioned that if the UK wants to reconsider its position on this, then it is better to do it soon. He also referred to the role of the Court of Justice in the jurisdictional or arbitration system of dispute settlement and the respect of the role of UK courts.
UK defence secretary Gavin WILLIAMSON announced the launch of the UK’s first defence space strategy and that RAF Air Command assumed responsibility for command and control of UK military space operations to defend the UK’s interests in space. The move comes after the UK strongly objected to its exclusion from the EU’s Galileo programme.
Another row erupted after claims that the EU is deliberately making it harder for the UK defence companies to participate in the new European Defence Industrial Development Programme, which is to be set up in 2019.
In customs union news, business representatives piled pressure on UK Prime Minister Theresa MAY to reach a frictionless customs deal post-Brexit or risk a slum in UK investment. In a joint statement, the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) said: “The uninterrupted flow of goods is essential to both the EU and UK economies. This must be frictionless as with a customs union. We need clarity and certainty, because time is running out. Uncertainty causes less investment.”
As for the Irish border issue, UK Brexit secretary David DAVIS is reportedly pushing for the Northern Ireland to be given both EU and UK status along with a 10-mile border buffer zone in an attempt to break the customs deadlock.
A cross-party campaign pushing for another referendum on the final Brexit deal, headed by pro-EU group Wales for Europe won the support of more than 30 cross-party representatives, including MPs, council leaders, assembly members and MEPs.
A grassroots group is also set to launch a speaking tour, called “Left Against Brexit”. British Labour MEP Julie WARD will be one of the major speakers and will join forces with UK Green party co-leader Caroline LUCAS, the general secretary of the transport union TSSA Manuel CORTES, Michael CHESSUM and Catherine WEST MP in a bid to persuade Labour leader Jeremy CORBYN and his allies to shift his position on Brexit. CORBYN has refused to rule out backing the final Brexit deal agreed by the UK Prime Minister. The campaign will not, however, seek to call a second referendum on UK’s exit though.
Meanwhile, the second episode of “Carry on Brussels”, a documentary focusing on the European Parliament, was released on Wednesday on Channel 4.
Italy: Giuseppe CONTE was sworn in as the new Prime Minister on Friday 1 June. Former ENF group MEP and leader of the League Matteo SALVINI was appointed as minister for the interior, Enzo MOAVERO MILANESI as minister for foreign affairs, Giovanni TRIA as minister for finance and Paolo SAVONA, who was previously proposed to hold the finance portfolio, as minister for European affairs.
Slovenia: The anti-immigration Democratic Party (SDS) won 25 per cent of the votes on Sunday’s elections. Coalition talks will follow to form a new government.
Spain: On Friday 1 June Prime Minister Mariano RAJOY was voted out of office in a vote of no-confidence filed by leader of the Socialist Party Pedro SANCHEZ. The vote, which was backed with 180 in favour, 169 against and one abstention, follows a corruption scandal involving members of Popular Party. SANCHEZ was sworn in on 3 June as the new Prime Minister and is expected to form a new cabinet the next few days. He said that he intends to lead the country until mid-2020, when the current parliamentary term comes to end, but his cabinet will not include members of the Podemos party, which backed SANCHEZ’s motion of confidence. However, his party has a small majority with only 84 out of the 350 seats in the parliament.