Movers and Shakers | 19 December 2016

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.

By Ifigenia Balkoura

19 Dec 2016

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: the Parliament's presidency, the new Lithuanian cabinet and new Prime Minister of Italy, Brexit and more.

European Parliament:

Antonio TAJANI (IT) was elected as the EPP Group candidate.
Speaking at a news conference in Strasbourg on Tuesday, ALDE group President Guy VERHOFSTADT gave a strong signal that he will make a last minute entry into the race for Parliament's top job. Read more.
S&D group President Gianni PITTELLA said that the 'grand coalition' would now cease. Read more.
The Greens/EFA group has nominated British MEP Jean LAMBERT as their candidate for the presidency.
Helga STEVENS (ECR, BE) launched a new website and a manifesto for her presidential bid.

Political groups:
Greens/EFA group: Ska KELLER (DE) was elected as co-President of the group, while Philippe LAMBERTS (BE) was re-elected Co-President.

S&D group: elected its new Bureau on Thursday 15 December in Strasbourg. The new composition of the Group is as follows:
Victor BOŞTINARU (RO), Tanja FAJON (SI), Maria João RODRIGUES (PT), Isabelle THOMAS (FR), Kathleen VAN BREMPT (BE), Josef WEIDENHOLZER (AT) were re-elected as Vice-Presidents, while Udo BULLMANN (DE), Jeppe KOFOD (DK) and Elena VALENCIANO (ES) were elected as Vice-Presidents. Péter NIEDERMÜLLER (HU) was re-elected as Treasurer.

GUE/NGL: re-elected Gabi ZIMMER (DE) as its President and Neoklis SYLIKIOTIS (CY) and PATRICK LE HYARIC (FR) as Vice-Presidents. Tania González Peñas (ES) and Dennis de Jong (NL) were elected Vice-Presidents as well. The group confirmed the candidacy of Eleonora FORENZA (IT) for the Presidency and the nomination of Dimitris PAPADIMOULIS (EL) as the group's candidate for the Vice-President role.

Composition of the Parliament:
José Inácio FARIA (PT) defected from the ALDE group and joined EPP. According to the plenary minutes, Alessandra MUSSOLINI (IT) re-joined the EPP Group, effective 12 December 2016, after her defection from the group at the end of November. Following this, the EPP group has now 217 members and ALDE group 68.

Plenary highlights:
Martin SCHULZ chaired his last full plenary session as President of the European Parliament. SCHULZ gave an emotional speech and said “Five years ago, after being elected as President, I said that it was my goal to make the European Parliament more visible, more audible and more influential. Five years later, I can say that together we have achieved this: today the Parliament is more visible, more audible and more influential than ever”.

Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS): MEPs backed the ambitious revisions to the ETS, the cornerstone of the EU's policy to combat climate change and its key tool for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively. 

Overhaul of EU Parliament rules: The report was approved by the MEPs in a vote on Tuesday. Under the sweeping changes, MEPs' declarations of financial interests are to be more detailed, regularly updated and checked and former MEPs will required to inform Parliament when they take a new job as a lobbyist.  

'Market pillar' of the fourth Railway Package: On 14 December, MEPs approved in an early second reading agreement the proposals under the Market Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package. Provisions allowing rail companies to offer new commercial services on domestic lines become applicable starting 14 December 2020, while competitive tendering is to become the general rule for new public service contracts as of December 2023.

Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports: MEPs backed the rules, after 15 years of discussion about European ports policy. Knut FLECKENSTEIN (S&D, DE) was the rapporteur of the report. The Council of the EU now has to approve the rules.

Sakharov Prize: Iraqi Yazidi Islamic State survivors and activists Nadia MURAD and Lamiya AJI BASHAR received the award during an emotional ceremony in Parliament on Tuesday. After escaping sexual enslavement by Islamic State, they both became spokespeople for women affected by the terrorist group's campaign of sexual violence and for the persecuted Yazidi minority. 


External Action Service (EEAS): 

High Representative Federica MOGHERINI, has announced the following appointments to the European External Action Service:
Pawel HERCZYNSKI, currently Ambassador, Representative of Poland to the Political and Security Committee, has been appointed Director, Conflict Prevention and Security Policy, replacing Director François RIVASSEAU who is acting in the role.
Marc GIACONMINI has been appointed as the new Director, Deputy Managing Director for Human Rights, Global and Multilateral Issues., replacing Lotte KNUDSEN.
Paola PAMPALONI, currently serving as senior European External Action Service Head of Division for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives, assumes the role of Director, Deputy Managing Director Asia and the Pacific replacing Gunnar WIEGAND.
Colin SCICLUNA, currently member of cabinet of Johannes HAHN, has been appointed Director, Deputy Managing Director Middle East and North Africa, replacing Briton Nicholas WESTCOTT.
Saudi Arabia: Michele CERVONE D'URSO, a senior EEAS official, has been appointed as the new Head of the EU Delegation, replacing Adam KULACH.
Angola: Thomas ULICNY assumes the role as Head of the EU Delegation, replacing Gordon KRICKE.
Bart OUVRY has been appointed as Head of the EU Delegation to the Democratic Republic of Congo, replacing Bertrand SORET.
Somalia: Véronique LORENZO has been appointed as the new Head of the EU Delegation. 


European Court of Auditors:

Juhan PARTS was nominated as Member.


Public affairs:

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Caobisco: Marina VALVERDE was appointed as the new Secretary General, effective 1 February. Marina has been previously working at EuroCommerce, where she was responsible for developing lobbying strategies and providing expert advice on the impact of policy and regulatory developments for a network of 175 experts from retail associations and major European retailers.

EFPIA: Eric CORNUT was appointed as Interim Director General, succeeding Richard BERGSTRÖM.

European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA): Nathalie GMINDER, Manager European Affairs and Communication is leaving the association after four and a half years at the end of December. She will join ZF Friedrichshafen AG, one of CLEPA's estimated members, by supporting them with setting up an office in Brussels.

European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME): Véronique WILLEMS was unanimously elected as new Secretary General. She will succeed Peter FAROSS in January 2017.

European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC): Katja LEHTO-KOMULAINEN was appointed as Deputy General Secretary, replacing Veronica NILSSON who is standing down for family reasons.

Europêche: The General Assembly confirmed the mandate of Javier GARAT as President for another two years. Barrie DEAS, Marc GHIGLIA, Gerard VAN BALSFOORT and Paul Piscopo were elected as Vice-Presidents, while Niels WICHMANN was re-elected Treasurer and Daniel VOCES DE ONAÍNDI was appointed acting Managing Director.


News in a nutshell:

Labelling of organic products: On 12 December, the AGRIFISH Council held a discussion on the proposal on organic production and labelling of organic products.

Brexit: The debate around the rights of EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit continued to rage this week. The Three Million campaign group, which represents those living here from the continent, handed a letter to Downing Street on Monday to demand they are not used as “bargaining chips” in Brexit negotiations. On Wednesday a committee of peers said the Government was under a “moral obligation” to immediately guarantee their rights. But Theresa May stood her ground - insisting, as always, that she could not budge until EU states had offered reciprocal guarantees. The other running issue to plague the Government was around a traditional deal for the UK if Brexit negotiations cannot be completed within the two-year Article 50 window. On Monday Chancellor Philip Hammond piled the pressure on the Prime Minister by backing some kind of interim deal, while on Tuesday another Lords committee urged the Government to come forward with a “game plan” for a transitional trade deal before Article 50 is triggered.  On Thursday Brexit Secretary David Davis opened the door to such a deal - although he also said the Government's plan for Brexit would not be published before February. 

Elsewhere, a group of MPs wrote to Martin Schulz attacking the EU over its tariffs arrangements which they said amounted to a “protectionist” trade policy.  And former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said EU officials were acting like “Soviet inquisitors” after the party was accused of misspending Brussels funds. 
The UK has "nothing to gain" from leaving the EU, according to a 2016 Euro Plus Monitor report. The report says that Britain "already benefits" from light-touch regulation. "Its problems," says the report, "lie in policy areas such as macroeconomic management and the housing market over which the EU has little influence." 
Parliament's President, Martin SCHULZ (S&D, DE) in the letter to European Council President Donald TUSK ahead of a Brussels summit on Thursday, warned that if the Parliament has only a "secondary role" it cannot exclude deciding to "draw up its own detailed arrangements governing its interaction" with the EU negotiator, Michel BARNIER and the UK government. 

Italy: Foreign Minister, Paolo GENTILONI was appointed by President Sergio MATTARELLA as the new Prime Minister of Italy, following the resignation of Matteo RENZI last week. A new government is expected to be formed.
Lithuania: Prime Minister Saulius SKVERNELIS' new cabinet was sworn in on Tuesday 13 December.
United Nations: Antonio GUTERRES was sworn in as the new Secretary General on 12 December. GUTERRES will succeed Ban KI-MOON on 1 January 2017.  


Candidate states:

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Both the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) and the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) claimed victory in the general elections held on Sunday 11 December, with the first  one winning 38.3 per cent and the latter 36.3 per cent that may be translated into same seats in the parliament. 


Read the most recent articles written by Ifigenia Balkoura - Movers and Shakers | 26 November 2018


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