Movers and Shakers | 15 January 2021

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our Movers and Shakers column.

By Mia Bartoloni

Mia Bartoloni is the Editor of Dods People EU and the European Public Affairs Directory (EPAD)

15 Jan 2021

Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: The new Hungarian MEP, Parliament bids farewell to a Belgian member, Estonian prime minister resigns, Austria’s minister for labour steps down, the latest Commission appointments, and more!

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European Parliament

Welcome to Parliament’s newest member, Ernő Schaller-Baross (EPP, HU), who has been appointed by Fidesz-KDNP to fill the vacant seat of former Fidesz MEP József Szájer. Szájer had resigned at the end of December after violating COVID-19 health restrictions while attending a private party in Brussels.

A law graduate, Schaller-Baross previously worked as deputy state secretary in charge of international relations in the Hungarian office of the prime minister. Before that, he was a foreign policy adviser for the Fidesz parliamentary group between 2017-18 and a legal desk officer in the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration and Justice between 2010-13. Schaller-Baross has extensive experience in foreign policy and has spoken in favour of strong nations, sovereign states and conservatism in the 21st century in the framework of European cooperation.

Belgian MEP Kris Peeters (EPP) was appointed new vice-president of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) Management Committee on Tuesday, representing the Benelux countries. Peeters has served as a MEP since 2019, sitting as chair on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (D-NAT) and member on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), the Security and Defence Sub-committee (SEDE) and the Iran Delegation (D-IR). According to De Standaard, Peeters’ seat will go to former MEP and fellow Christian-democrat Tom Vandenkendelaere.

National Parties

Nico Semsrott (Greens/EFA, DE) has left Die PARTEI over differences with fellow MEP and leader of the party, Martin Sonneborn (NI, DE). Semsrott has cited the reaction of Sonneborn to people getting offended by an allegedly racist joke posted on Sonneborn’s Twitter page. Semsrott will remain in the Parliament as an Independent, sitting with the Greens/EFA group.

Political Groups

The group has established a task force for proposing changes to the group’s rules of procedure to allow for “the possibility of the collective termination of membership of a group of Members rather than just individual membership”.  The task force consists of five MEPs  - Esteban González Pons (ES), Jan Olbrycht (PL), Esther de Lange (NL), Paulo Rangel (PT) and Othmar Karas (AT).

The Hungarian EPP Group Delegation also nominated Ádám Kósa as a member and vice-chair of the European Parliament Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) replacing Tamas Deutsch (EPP) who was suspended from the EPP group in December.

Parliament president David Sassoli is to announce on Monday 18 January the official name change of the group to ‘The Left in the European Parliament - GUE/NGL’.

Renew Europe
Lithuanian member Viktor Uspaskich has apologised after accusations of homophobia. The leader of Lithuania’s populist Labour party published a Facebook video where he referred to gay people as perverts and deviants on 10 January. The head of the Renew group, Dacian Cioloș (RO) demanded an apology from Uspaskich and threatened a vote of expulsion if the apology was not deemed satisfactory.

European Commission

Directorates-General and Services

Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN)
Isabel Grilo replaces Martin Hallet as director of directorate G (Economies of the Member States II). Hallet had been performing the role in an acting capacity. Grilo is replaced in her previous role as head of unit E3 (Bulgaria, Romania, Sweden) by Patrick D‘Souza in an acting capacity.

National News

Minister for labour and families, Christine Aschbacher has annouced her decision to leave the government following accusations of plagiarism related to her diploma thesis. Martin Kocher, professor of behavioral economics and director of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), will inherit the labour portfolio while minister for women and integration Susanne Raab will look after the family affairs portfolio.

President Rumen Radev has announced that parliamentary elections will take place on 4 April.

Juri Ratas resigned as prime minister and leader of the Centre Party (ALDE) on Wednesday over a corruption scandal that has engulfed the ruling coalition and led to its collapse. President Kersti Kaljulaid has asked the leader of the Reform Party (ALDE) Kaja Kallas, to form a new government and it is likely that the Reform Party will explore a possible coalition with the Centre Party. Ratas has led the government since 2016 as leader of the Centre Party.

Three ministers from the ruling coalition have resigned following the withdrawal of support of Matteo Renzi’s party. Agriculture minister Teresa Bellanova, family minister Elena Bonetto and junior minister for foreign affairs Ivan Scalfarotto from the junior coalition partner Italia Viva, have all resigned.

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Read the most recent articles written by Mia Bartoloni - Movers and Shakers | 16 July 2021


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