Today's Movers & Shakers are about: the latest on the Parliament's presidency and composition, just one day before the elections, the new portfolio of Günther OETTINGER, the Maltese Presidency, the latest appointments in public affairs, Brexit and more.
Just one day left until the presidential elections on 17 January and here’s what happened since our last Movers & Shakers:
EPP group leader, Manfred WEBER (DE), has condemned his Socialist counterpart Gianni PITTELLA over his decision to scrap the long-standing agreement to share Parliament's presidency. Despite the criticism, he said the EPP group still remained "open" to cooperation on the presidency with the Socialists and appealed to them to "reconsider" the decision. Read more. The group also published the agreement made back in 2014 between them, S&D and ALDE.
The group’s candidate and the favourite to become Parliament’s next President, has pledged to ensure that “all MEPs” are fully represented if he is elected. His message was directed at Parliament’s smaller political groups such as the Greens/EFA alliance which have in the past complained that they are often marginalised in the assembly’s decision making process. Read more.
S&D group candidate, Gianni PITTELLA (IT) in his hearing said that, if elected, he would make the conference of presidents, the body of group leaders, “a forum for real and open debate.” He also pledged to be an “inclusive” President who would be “available to all MEPs, regardless of their role and function.” Read more.
ECR group candidate Helga STEVENS (BE) insisted her group is not anti-European, and said it's time to break away from the boys' club that has been running the EU, while she promised to be ‘neutral participant’, if elected. Read more.
GUE/NGL group candidate Eleonora FORENZA (IT) branded the grand coalition between the EPP and Socialist groups an "orphan child” and added "it is quite surreal what we are seeing really because there is, it seems, no coalition at all." Read more.
Greens presidential hopeful and one of the three women in race, Jean LAMBERT (UK) said that bigger groups should not take smaller groupings for granted in the vote for the post. Read more.
Elections in brief:
EPP: Antonio TAJANI
S&D: Gianni PITTELLA
ECR: Helga STEVENS
ALDE: Guy VERHOFSTADT
Greens/EFA: Jean LAMBERT
GUE/NGL: Eleonora FORENZA
ENF: Laurentiu REBEGA
*Piernicola Pedicini (EFDD, IT) withdrew his candidacy on 11 January.
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Vice-Chairs of the Committees, Subcommittees and the Delegations:
Alex MAYER (S&D, UK) was elected as the new Vice-chair of the Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia (D-SAS), replacing Ian DUNCAN (ECR, UK).
ALDE group: The merger between the ALDE group and the Italian 5 Star Movement collapsed before even being submitted to a vote by the Liberals. The EFDD group-affiliated movement has 17 MEPs and voted by 78.5 per cent to join ALDE on Monday 9 January. Read more. Guy VERHOFSTADT has moved to explain the recent controversial merger with Beppe GRILLO's Eurosceptic 5 Star Movement and admitted the recent attempts to forge an alliance with it had been a "mistake." Read more.
Nigel FARAGE, Chair of the EFDD group launched a fierce attack on the M5S after the vote and said “Beppe GRILLO will now join the Euro-fanatic establishment of ALDE which supports TTIP, mass immigration and an EU army, but oppose direct democracy.” Read more. Following the failure of the merger, FARAGE said “I am happy to say that any differences between Beppe GRILLO’s 5 Star Movement and myself have been resolved in an amicable manner. After a few administrative changes we will, next week in Strasbourg, continue with our work together in the EFDD Group.”
Greens/EFA: Marco AFFRONTE (IT) defected from EFDD group and joined the Greens. AFFRONTE also left the Five Star Movement and is now independent.
ENF group: Marco ZANNI (IT) also left EFDD group and joined ENF, but remains a member of the 5 Star Movement. The new seat breakdown of the Parliament is as follows:
Jens GEIER was appointed as the new Head of the SPD delegation.
Plenary: MEPs are in Strasbourg from Monday 16 to Thursday 19 January.
CHANGING ROLE: On Monday, 9 January, Commissioner Günther OETTINGER (DE) met with Parliamentary committees for an exchange of views regarding his nomination as the new Commissioner for budget and human resources. He discussed his experience as Commissioner for digital economy, his ambitions for the European budget, the importance of the Parliament and gender equality. He faced only one question regarding his recent controversial behaviour. The final opinion fell to President Martin SCHULZ and Parliament coordinators on 12 January, who endorsed OETTINGER's appointment. Read more.
Presidency of the Council of the EU:
Dods EU Monitoring have prepared a guide outlining the priorities (by policy area) and useful contacts of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Download your free guide.
Last week, three Maltese MEPs talked to the Parliament Magazine about the Maltese presidency, the challenges the EU faces and what to expect from their country over the next six months.
S&D MEP, Alfred SANT is optimistic that despite its small size, Malta could have a positive impact on crucial EU dossiers, such as the immigration crisis and Brexit negotiations. Read more.
Petitions committee Vice-Chair, Marlene MIZZI (S&D) does not think that it is business as usual for the Maltese presidency. On the contrary, she thinks that it is a litmus test for Europe, which would put an enormous amount of pressure even on the biggest, most experienced countries in Europe, let alone the smallest EU member state. Read more.
EPP MEP Roberta METSOLA, shared the frustrations that people have with the EU, but focused on the importance of the Union’s unity and the need of reform. She also outlined the rise of the populism and populist leaders and she said that Malta's Council presidency is an opportunity to restore citizens' faith in the EU. Read more.
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Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT): Laura BLANCO joined the team as EU Affairs Associate. In her new role Laura will be driving CDT’s European policy work, based in Brussels. She joined from DLA Piper’s government affairs department where she has worked the past three years. Prior to that, Laura worked at the British Chamber of Commerce.
ERTICO - ITS Europe: Jacob BANGSGAARD, previously Director General of FIA Region was appointed as Chief Executive Officer as of 1 January 2017, succeeding Hermann MEYER.
European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV): Pascale BLAES joined the team as the new Senior EU Affairs and Media Coordinator, replacing Nikos MANARAS.
Finance Watch: Benoît LALLEMAND, Finance Watch’s Head of Strategic Development and Operations, was appointed by the Board of Directors as Acting Secretary General, following the departure of the previous Secretary General, Christophe NIJDAM.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF): Derek CHOLLET was appointed as Executive Vice President and Senior Advisor for security and defence policy and Daniel TWINING as Counsellor and Director of the Asia Program, following the departure of the Senior Vice-President, Ivan VEJVODA
VATTENFALL: Markus FRIBERG was appointed as the new Director Media Relations and Editorial, starting on 1 February. Mr FRIBERG has a thorough experience in press relations, having previously served as Head of Press for the Swedish Trade Federation and prior to this as Press Secretary at the Swedish Prime Minister.
News in a nutshell:
Brexit: Prime Minister Theresa MAY has criticised the media after the pound slumped following an interview in which she appeared to give her backing to a hard Brexit. Speaking on Monday, Mrs MAY denied that she was going for a hard Brexit, insisting her remarks had been over-interpreted. Read more.
In trade news, Bob CORKER, who chairs the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said there was "no way" the UK would be neglected by the TRUMP administration. "They will take a front seat and I think it will be our priority to make sure that we deal with them on a trade agreement initially but in all respects in a way that demonstrates the long-term friendship that we've had for so long," he said. Read more.
Britain could be usurped from its leading position within NATO after Brexit under plans being discussed by members of the military alliance. The Royal United Services Institute indicates the tradition that a British officer holds the second most senior military role in NATO is being eyed up by other European countries. According to The Times, France is the most likely to profit from Brexit and improve its standing within NATO. Read more.
Ministers have reportedly admitted defeat in the Government’s Supreme Court appeal on triggering Article 50 and have already prepared new legislation to put before MPs. Read more.
On Wednesday 11 January, Downing Street denied plans to make firms pay a £1,000 annual levy for every skilled EU worker they recruit after Brexit - hours after a minister appeared to suggest it was under consideration. Read more.
Mark CARNEY, the governor of the Bank of England said that Europe is at greater financial risk from Brexit transition than the UK and he added that “immediate risks” to the British economy since the referendum result have “gone down”. Read more.
Joseph MUSCAT, the prime minister of Malta – which currently holds the EU presidency – said the UK must continue to adhere to new European Court of Justice rulings during any transitional period after quitting the bloc. This process is expected to take at least five years after Brexit, which is expected in 2019. Read more.
On Tuesday 17 January, Theresa MAY will finally set out more details of her plans for Britain's departure from the European Union. Read more.
Outgoing US ambassador to the EU Anthony GARDNER has launched a blistering attack on Ukip's Nigel FARAGE, branding his Eurosceptic message a "caricature." In a frank briefing, he made a staunch defence of the EU and warned of the "dangers" of a hard Brexit. Read more.
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM): President Gjorge IVANOV gave Nikola GRUEVSKI (VMRO DPMNE) the mandate to form a government, after his party narrowly won the elections held on 11 December. GRUEVSKI now has 20 days starting from Monday 9 January.