Parliament business on ice amid protracted wrangling over EU top jobs

Written by Martin Banks on 1 July 2019 in News
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Parliament will be unable to conduct any business until MEPs elect the assembly’s next president, it has been revealed.

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


On Wednesday, MEPs were due to elect a new president for the next two and a half years, but this could be delayed unless there is first agreement among Member States about the next Commission president to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker.

An emergency EU summit on Sunday on this appointment, and other EU top jobs, was pushed into Monday after EU leaders failed to agree on one nominee.

On Monday it was announced that talks had been suspended until Tuesday at 11am.


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The fight over Parliament’s presidency could prove just as tricky and this is one of the other top jobs yet to be decided this week.

A candidate can be nominated by a political group or a minimum of 38 MEPs.

If he or she gets at least 50 percent of the votes cast they will be elected Parliament President.

Due to the wrangle over the Commission presidency, the deadline for nominations for Parliament’s top job has been extended to 7pm on Tuesday.

“All sides need to bang their heads together and come up with some candidates. We are calling for an open competition for the presidency. We are still pushing our case for Jan Zahradil” ECR spokesman

Some MEPs have even suggested Parliament may have to be adjourned for up to one month if no decision is taken at Monday’s extended summit about the new posts.

UK Socialist MEP Richard Corbett said, “This has been proposed and another possibility is that a temporary president will be put in place. But we will just have to wait and see what happens this week.”

On Sunday morning, European Council President Donald Tusk attended a conference of presidents meeting ahead of the summit.

An EPP spokesman told this website that the group was “100 percent” in favour of German MEP Manfred Weber becoming the new Commission President.

He said support also includes MEP members from the Hungarian Fidesz party which has been suspended from the EPP in a row over defiance of EU policies.

If the summit on Tuesday finally makes a decision, a vote on the Commission presidency will take place in parliament on 17 July in Strasbourg in a secret ballot.

The appointment must be endorsed by MEPs.

"Another possibility is that a temporary president will be put in place. But we will just have to wait and see what happens this week" Richard Corbett MEP

Parliament is also due this week to elect 14 vice presidents and the make-up of the five quaestors, the other main political body necessary for the functioning of Parliament's activities.

MEPs will also decide on the composition of its committees. Votes on these issues are due to take place on Wednesday during this week’s plenary, the first since the European elections.

A spokesman for the Socialist group in Parliament said, “We have 154 MEPs and are again the second biggest group. Our position is clear: we support the Spitzen process for electing the new Commission President. We fully stand behind this process as well as standing fully behind our candidate for the post: Frans Timmermans.”

The battle over the next Commission presidency comes amidst the usual post-election shake-up of the composition of parliamentary committees, with some of the smaller groups vying with the EPP and Socialists, the two largest groups, for the most sought-after chairs.

The committees are due to convene next week for their constitutive meetings to elect their Chairs and Vice-Chairs.

Renew Europe, formerly ALDE, has 108 MEPs, while the Greens emerged from the elections with 75 MEPs.

Identity and Democracy, or ID, has 73 MEPs, including 11 from the German AfD party. It represents nine Member States and has asked for the agriculture and legal affairs committee chairmanships.

An ID spokesman said, “We are thinking of which candidate we will put forward for the committee chairs and will see what we can then achieve within what is, after all, a gentlemen’s agreement way of electing committee chairs.”

He added, “As an opposition group we are currently watching on the sidelines to see what candidate will be presented (for Parliament’s presidency).

An ECR spokesman was critical of the failure, so far, of the mainstream political parliamentary groups to propose any candidates for the institution’s presidency.

Only the ECR and GUE groups have proposed a candidate.

The spokesman said, “All sides need to bang their heads together and come up with some candidates. We are calling for an open competition for the presidency. We are still pushing our case for Jan Zahradil.”

The left-leaning GUE group, which has 41 MEPs, has put forward Spanish deputy Sira Rego as its candidate for President.

“She represents the European left that wants to demand a new model of integration, where the interest of the working class is at the core,” said a GUE source.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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