Movers and Shakers | 5 July 2019
Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.
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The effectiveness of the Spitzenkandidat process came under fire this week as the nomination for the President of the European Commission was revealed. The EPP’s lead candidate Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE) stood down when it became clear that he could not gain adequate support from EU member states. Albeit not a legal obligation to follow the Spitzenkandidat process, the nomination of German defence minister Ursula VON DER LEYEN (EPP, DE) has invoked mixed reactions. Hailed as a victory for Angela MERKEL, others are interpreting the nomination as a clear by-pass of the process. If the nomination is confirmed on 13 July, VON DER LEYEN will be the first woman to hold the office.
Further changes were consolidated this week when Charles MICHEL (BE) was announced as the nomination for President of the Council of the European Union on Tuesday. MICHEL had high level supporters, including French president Emmanuel MACRON. MICHEL has presided over Belgium as the interim Prime Minister since, as negotiations to form a federal government have continued. Michel will take over from incumbent Donald TUSK later this year.
European Central Bank (ECB)
The current head of the International Monetary Fund Christine LAGARDE (FR) has been chosen to succeed Mario DRAGHI (IT) as the new President of the European Central Bank. LAGARDE is widely perceived as a suitable nomination, based on her long standing and international reputation in the finance sector, previously as French finance minister.
High representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy
Finally, Josep BORRELL (ES) was nominated to the post of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. BORRELL has been Spanish Foreign Minister under the government of Pedro SÁNCHEZ since June 2018. His European experience goes back to when he was President of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2007.
Parliament president, vice-presidents and quaestors
By the end of last week, four candidates were left standing for the role; these were Ska KELLER (Greens/EFA, DE); Sira REGO (GUE/NGL, ES); David-Maria SASSOLI (S&D, IT) and Jan ZAHRADIL (ECR, CZ). On Wednesday it was announced that after receiving the support of 345 out of 667 MEPs, SASSOLI had come out on top. Recommendations to elect a president from central and Eastern Europe were left unfulfilled, with ZAHRADIL faring behind with 160 votes. SASSOLI, who starts in the role immediately, will hold the position for a period of two and a half years.
Elected vice-presidents are:
- Mairead MCGUINNESS (EPP, IE)
- Pedro SILVA PEREIRA (S&D, PT)
- Rainer WIELAND (EPP, DE)
- Katarina BARLEY (S&D, DE)
- Othmar KARAS (EPP, AT)
- Ewa Bożena KOPACZ (EPP, PL)
- Klara DOBREV (S&D, HU)
- Dita CHARANZOVÁ (RE, CZ)
- Nicola BEER (RE, DE)
- Lívia JÁRÓKA (EPP, HU)
- Heidi HAUTALA (Greens/EFA, FI)
- Marcel KOLAJA (Greens/EFA, CZ)
- Dimitrios PAPADIMOULIS (GUE/NGL, EL)
- Fabio Massimo CASTALDO (NI, IT)
The five new quaestors for the first two and a half years of the ninth legislative term were elected by acclamation on Thursday morning. They are:
- Anne SANDER (EPP, FR)
- Monika BEŇOVÁ (S&D, SK)
- David CASA (EPP, MT)
- Gilles BOYER (RE, FR)
- Karol KARSKI (ECR, PL)
It appears that the cordon sanitaire policy designed to prevent the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group from getting powerful positions in the parliament will continue for the following term. ID failed to secure a vice-president or Quaestor post during Wednesday’s elections for those positions. Per the D’Hondt formula typically used to allocate Committee chair posts the group should be entitled to one chairperson – likely to be either the Agriculture or Legal Affairs committee – however a majority of the other groups are planning to block this.
Two Catalan MEPs living in self-imposed exile following the 2017 independence referendum have failed in a legal push that would allow them to have taken their seats on the first day of the parliament. Carles PUIGDEMONT and Toni COMÍN of the Catalan European Democratic Party (NI) appealed to the EU General Court after the Spanish authorities rejected their attempts to take the required oath in absentia, since both would have been arrested had their attempted to travel to Madrid to take the oath as required. The General Court are still considering the case as a whole, but denied their request for a temporary injunction that would have allowed them to take their seats while the Court considers their position.
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Following their election to the European Parliament, Andrus ANSIP and Corina CREŢU have resigned from the European Commission. Their policy responsibilities have been transferred to current members of the Commission; with Vice-President ŠEFČOVIČ taking over ANSIP’s prior responsibilities of the Digital Single Market, while Commissioner HAHN shall take over the Regional Policy brief from CREŢU. President JUNCKER has previously stated that he does not wish to appoint replacements for any Commissioners that elected to depart their positions following the European elections in order to save the Union money.
Communication (DG COMM)
Alexander WINTERSTEIN departs the position of Deputy Chief Spokesperson.
Dana MANESCU is the new Head of Unit A1 (Social Media and Visual Communication) replacing former Acting Head of Unit Anca SCORTARIU.
Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN)
Annika ERIKSGAARD MELANDER has been appointed an Adviser on the structural features of national economies under Directorate F, filling a vacant position.
Energy (DG ENER)
Guido BORTONI has been appointed as an Advisor to Deputy Director-General Klaus-Dieter BORCHARDT.
Maurizio BOELLA has departed his current position as Advisor to Deputy Director-General Gerassimos THOMAS. He moves to become Head of Unit E2 (Inspections: Reprocessing Plants) with former Acting Head of Unit Christelle CHARPENTIER departing their position.
Megan RICHARDS is no longer Director of Directorate A (Energy Policy) with Paula PINHO becoming Acting Director.
Catharina SIKOW-MAGNY has left the position of Head of Unit B1 (Networks and Regional Initiatives), with Jane AMILHAT becoming Acting Head of Unit.
SIKOW-MAGNY moves instead to become Head of Unit B3 (Retail Markets: Coal and Oil) with Anna COLUCCI departing.
Susanne TAILLEMITE becomes Head of Unit B4 (Dissemination and User Support), replacing former Acting Head of Unit Timothy ALLEN.
Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME)
Following the election of Ioan-Dragos TUDORACHE to the European Parliament, he departs his current position as Head of Unit C1 (Irregular migration and return policy) with Dan ROTENBERG becoming the Acting Head of Unit.
Cosmin DOBRAN has become Head of Unit D3 (Employment, education, social affairs and health), filling a vacant position.
Due to their departure as Commissioners, the terms of the former Cabinets of Commissioners Andrus ANSIP and Corina CREŢU have ended.
Cabinet of Margrethe Vestager
Friedrich WENZEL BULST has left the position of Senior Adviser, with Michele PIERGIOVANNI replacing him, and covering the same policy responsibilities.
Cabinet of Marianne THYSSEN
Pieter VAN NUFFEL is no longer a Member of Cabinet, with Felix RONKES AGERBEEK joining the Cabinet and covering the same policy responsibilities.
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For the third time, Finland took over the presidency of the European Council on Monday. The presidency, which rotates every six months, was previously held by Romania. Croatia will assume the presidency in early 2020. Finland is expected to focus its attention on climate change, Brexit and the situation in the Western Balkans.
Eurojust bids farewell to Laima Čekelienė, who after 11 years is returning to Lithuania to finish her prosecutorial career.
International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA)
Andy SEYMOUR has been appointed to the governing board. He replaces outgoing member Mark HEINE who has stepped down.
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Greece will hold early Parliamentary elections on Sunday, called in response to the poor performance of Prime Minister Alexis TSIPRAS’ Coalition of the Radical Left (PEL) in the European and Local elections in May. Opinion polls suggest that the New Democracy party (EPP) of Kyriakos MITSOTAKIS is likely to win the most parliamentary seats.
Current Prime Minister Pedro SÁNCHEZ will face a confirmation vote in the Spanish Parliament on 23 July. If SÁNCHEZ fails in this vote then he will have two months to attempt to form a government or start preparations for a fresh election, which would be held in the 10 November. The primary disagreement is between SÁNCHEZ’s wish for a single-party Social Democrat minority government and Pablo IGLESIAS, leader of the We Can party, who has said that he will only vote for SÁNCHEZ if his party is involved in the government.