Ryszard Legutko: ECR will be in ‘unique position’ in next Parliament

Written by Martin Banks on 28 May 2019 in News
News

ECR joint leader Ryszard Legutko says the group will be in a “unique position” in the next European Parliament.

Photo credit: ECR Group


The Pole was reacting to the 2019 European election results that, he believes, show the ECR will continue to be a significant force in the next Parliament.

Results show the group, formerly dominated by the UK Conservatives, will have 59 seats compared with 76 in the last five-year mandate.

He said, “The ECR will continue to hold a unique position in the European Parliament as we look to play a constructive and serious role in bringing about genuine reform of the EU.”


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“We are already in discussions with a number of new partners and hope to make announcements in the coming days and weeks.”

While he praised ECR member Jan Zahradil for his “excellent” campaign to become President of the European Commission, he added, “We share the view that it is for the European Council to decide who is their preferred candidate for Commission President, regardless of whether they are a ‘Spitzenkandidat’ or not.”

“We will judge any candidate on their own merits before we can commit to supporting their agenda.”

For his part, Zahradil, a Czech MEP, said, “I believe these elections will bring an end to the old grand coalition between the EPP and Socialists. I would like to see a new centre-right majority, that would be business friendly and that would address the real concerns of people of Europe. I believe such a coalition would be a breath of fresh air for the EU."

“We share the view that it is for the European Council to decide who is their preferred candidate for Commission President, regardless of whether they are a ‘Spitzenkandidat’ or not” Ryszard Legutko MEP

The heavy election losses suffered by the UK Conservatives was a blow to the ECR; there will be only three UK Conservative MEPs in the new Parliament.

Further reaction to the results came from UK Socialist MEP Richard Corbett, who keeps his seat and said voters had sent a clear message that Brexit was still the main issue facing the UK public.

Corbett told this site, "I'm disappointed that Labour haemorrhaged votes to the Lib Dems and the Greens because of a perceived lack of clarity about our commitment to a new public vote on Brexit.”

“It is also important to note that there was an overall swing away from Brexit-supporting parties. While Farage's new Brexit party replaced UKIP, the total vote for Brexit-supporting parties fell, while support for Remain-supporting parties grew."

Elsewhere, German Greens MEP Sven Giegold, Spitzenkandidat for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, said, “This election was a vote for climate protection, but at the same time the European political blockade of the ‘Grand Coalition’ was voted out. Climate protection and the strengthening of European cohesion must now be on the agenda.”

“Instead of a German blockade of European solidarity, we need an awakening for Europe. In concrete terms, we demand decisive action on climate protection, a turnaround in agriculture policy in Europe and investment in joint European projects.”

Giegold added, “The wins of the Greens express the demand of many people for change. The higher turnout is a strengthening of Parliament and of European democracy as a whole. The heads of government must not sabotage the Spitzenkandidaten principle. It is now up to the political groups in Parliament to make the first proposal for the position of the EU Commission President."

“I would like to see a new centre-right majority, that would be business friendly and that would address the real concerns of people of Europe. I believe such a coalition would be a breath of fresh air for the EU" Jan Zahradil MEP

“In exchange for Green policy, we are ready to play a constructive role in the building of a majority. From now on, the other parties can no longer just talk climate protection, they must also act for climate protection. Climate protection must be implemented concretely in a new EU agricultural policy and a socially just CO2 pricing.”

He added, “Our maxim is: The European Union must now become a climate and social union.”

Comment also came from two Brexit Party winners in the UK, John Longworth and Lucy Harris.

Longworth said: "I will be there calling out the European Union if they try and do things that are detrimental to our region, or detrimental to the UK, and looking for the opportunities while we're in the European Union to make things better."

Harris, the Brexit Party's second winning candidate in Yorkshire and Humber, said as MEP she "simply wants to achieve Brexit.”

Mark Leonard, of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said, “Though the biggest headlines of election night will be of the Le Pen and Salvini victories, the story across Europe is that voters have mobilised in favour of change.”

“A high turnout in the European Parliament elections has resulted in a surge for smaller parties, notably greens and liberals, which has effectively countered the rise of far-right parties - preventing them from the kind of sweeping successes in the European elections that were predicted earlier this year.”

"I'm disappointed that Labour haemorrhaged votes to the Lib Dems and the Greens because of a perceived lack of clarity about our commitment to a new public vote on Brexit” Richard Corbett MEP

“This is particularly notable in Poland and Hungary, which have been seen as the leaders of sovereigntist, illiberal nationalism, where pro-European parties have risen in popularity,” Leonard added.

Focus now moves to forming new groupings in Parliament, a task many predict will be more complex because of a “fragmentation” of votes.

On this, a senior ALDE source said, “We don't have any comments for the moment. The delegation leaders will sit together tomorrow [Tuesday].”

“In Parliament, the size of a national delegation determines influence within a group and the sorts of jobs and roles that can be attained, from vice presidencies to committee chairmanships to rapporteurships,” the source added.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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