Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: Yet another MEP is leaving in the new year, UKIP exodus continues but EFDD group welcomes an ex-member, highlights from the final plenary session of 2018, latest appointments in the European Commission and public affairs, Brexit and more...
Composition of political Groups
Stefano MAULLU (IT) has left the EPP group and joined the ECR group following his national party defection from Forward Italy to the Brothers of Italy.
Former UKIP leader Diane JAMES (UK) has re-joined the EFDD group, two years’ after leaving both the party and group. She remains as an Independent MEP.
In addition to last week’s spate of resignations, Jonathan BULLOCK and Julia REID (EFDD, UK) have also left the UK Independence Party and are now sitting as Independents. UKIP were the largest UK delegation following the 2014 elections but now have just 7 MEPs.
The European Parliament approved the EUs trade agreement with Japan. The Economic Partnership Agreement was approved by 474 votes to 152 (40 MEPs abstained). It removes most duties on goods traded between Japan and the European Union; with Japan also liberalising many of their service industries to allow European companies to compete; including railway procurement and E-commerce. With Japan already having ratified the agreement, the European Council is set to approve both agreements on the 21st December, allowing the trade agreement to come into force on the 1st February 2019.
The Parliament also approved a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Japan which extends cooperation to include areas such as climate change, energy, terrorism and research and development. The Council shall also ratify this agreement at the Council Meeting next week, although for this deal to come into force all EU member states must ratify it.
The European Parliament approved the 2019 EU Budget on Wednesday, the last of the current legislature. The main highlights indicate increased funds for Erasmus+, climate protection, youth unemployment, tackling migration and research with cuts to pre-accession funds given to Turkey. The Budget passed by 451 votes to 142, with 78 MEPs abstaining.
The Special Committee on the Union’s authorization procedure for pesticides completed its business on the 12th December and has been disbanded. Their final report proposed measures to make the EUs approval procedure for pesticides more transparent, making research into new pesticides public and increased post-market evaluation to ensure that approved pesticides are safe for human health.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany (PES), which is the second largest delegation in the European Parliament, have confirmed their list of candidates for next year’s elections. Justice and Consumer Protection Minister Katarina BARLEY will be their lead candidate.
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Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI):
Michael SCANNELL is the new Director of Directorate G (Markets and Observatories); filling a previously vacant position.
Communications (DG COMM):
Dana MANESCU is no longer Head of Unit A6 (Social Media). Anca SCORTARIU is the new Acting Head of Unit.
Jaime ANDREU ROMEO is no longer Advisor to the Acting Director of Unit C (Communication with Citizens), with the position becoming vacant.
Ana JUAREZ is the new Acting Head of Unit D2 (Infrastructure, Security and Document Management). She replaces the previous Head of Unit Marc SIEVERS.
Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE):
Michael SCANNEL has left the position of Director of Directorate D (Food Chain: Stakeholder and International Relations). The position is currently vacant.
Secretariat-General (DG SG):
Ilze JUHANSONE is the new Acting Director of Directorate H (External Reations) with the position previously being vacant.
Giovanna FRACCHIA was appointed as Acting Head of Unit, Mediation Service, filling a vacant post.
Marcel HAAG is the new Acting Head of Unit of Unit D3 (Employment, Education and Social Affairs). The post was previously vacant.
Enrico FORTI becomes the new Acting Head of Unit of Unit G1 (Relations with the European Parliament & Consultative Committees), filling a vacant position.
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European Food Safety Authority (EFSA):
Bernhard URL has been reappointed as Executive Director for a second five-year term, which will begin on 1 June 2019.
The Belgian Permanent Representation to the EU has moved offices to Rue Belliard 65.
European Central Bank
Andrea ENRIA has been appointed Chair of the Supervisory Board and his 5-year term will begin on 1 January 2018.
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European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA): Carlos TAVARES has been re-elected President for a one-year term.
Incisive Health: Anna REK has joined the healthcare policy and communications consultancy’s Brussels office as an Account Manager.
News in a Nutshell
Prime Minister Theresa MAY announced last Monday that the Meaningful Vote on the Brexit deal, originally scheduled for Tuesday Evening, has been delayed. The vote will now not happen until January.
MAY survived a Vote of Confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party on Wednesday evening after 48 Tory MPs submitted letters requested a vote. 200 Conservative MPs voted in favour of her remaining leader with 117 voting against. The rules of the Conservative Party prevent any further No Confidence votes until at least a year has passed if the incumbent leader survives.
Brexit was the main topic at the European Council meeting on Thursday as MAY sought more assurances on the Northern Irish backstop to help get the Withdraw Agreement through the UK Parliament. However, their conclusions on Brexit made it clear that the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation, and stressed that the Northern Irish Backstop was intended to be an emergency temporary arrangement to prevent a hard Border in Ireland if no agreement could be made. They also called on all institutions to step up No Deal preparations.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles MICHEL was given permission to form a minority government after the New Flemish Alliance (ECR), formerly the largest party in the coalition, withdrew their support after Parliament approved signing up to the UN Global Compact for Migration.
The French government of Prime Minister Édouard PHILIPPE survived a Vote of No Confidence in Parliament on Thursday, with only seventy MPs voting in favour.
There are rumours that the Northern League (EFDD) could push for a snap election if Prime Minister Giuseppe CONTE is unable to persuade the EU to waive Excessive Deficit Procedures against the proposed budget. Northern League leader Matteo SALVINI has denied the speculation.
President Raimonds VĒJONIS has withdrawn the nomination of Aldis GOBZEMS (KPV-LV) for the Prime Ministership, citing the inability of his various cabinet proposals to get the supports of other parties.
President VĒJONIS now plans to continue negotiations with the political parties to find an agreeable joint candidate, possibly coming “from the sidelines”. Artis PABRIKS of the liberal “Development/For!” alliance has ruled himself out whilst Unity (EPP) have proposed their Chairman Krišjānis KARIŅŠ as a potential nominee.
Prime Minister Saulius SKVERNELIS has reshuffled his cabinet with Education and Science Minister Jurgita PETRAUSKIENĖ, Culture Minister Liana RUOKYTĖ-JONSSON and Environment Minister Kęstutis NAVICKAS all leaving the Government. For the moment the roles are being covered by other members of the cabinet.
Prime Minister Mateusz MORAWIECKI won a Confidence Vote in his government on Wednesday evening, triggered by the government after opposition MPs had begun threatening to move their own non-confidence motion.
As expected, Parliament voted against Social Democrat (PES) leader Stefan LÖFVEN as Prime Minister on Friday, with 200 MPs against and just 116 supporting the incumbent. This was the second of four potential votes before fresh elections are obligatory.
Earlier in the week Parliament had passed a budget proposed by the Moderate Party (EPP), however their leader Ulf KRISTERSSON was rejected as Prime Minister in a vote last month.