Movers and Shakers | 19 December 2017

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

By Ifigenia Balkoura

19 Dec 2017

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: Brexit talks move to phase two, plenary highlights, interview with the newly-elected president of the European Movement International Eva MAYDELL MEP (EPP, BU), latest appointments in the European Commission and in public affairs, the general elections in Italy, the new Austrian and Czech governments and more.


European Parliament:

Composition of the committees and the delegations: 

Claudia SCHMIDT (EPP, AT) left the delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo (D-SEE) and joined the delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan parliamentary cooperation committees and the EU-Georgia parliamentary association committee (D-SCA) and the delegation to the Euronest parliamentary assembly (D-EPA). 
Heinz K BECKER (EPP, AT) left the committee on petitions (PETI) and joined the committee on women’s rights and gender equality (FEMM). 
Lukas MANDL (EPP, AT) joined the committee on the environment, public health and food safety (ENVI), the committee on petitions (PETI) and the delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo (D-SEE). 
Geofrrey DIDIER (EPP, FR) joined the committee on employment and social affairs (EMPL). 
Nobert LINS (EPP, DE) joined the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI).  


Geofrrey DIDIER (EPP, FR) joined the committee on legal affairs (JURI) and the committee on women's rights and gender equality (FEMM). 
Norbert LINS (EPP, DE) switched from member to substitute of the committee on the environment, public health and food safety (ENVI).  


Plenary highlights: 
EFSI Prolonged to 2020MEPs supported a draft law which will extend the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) to 2020. EFSI’s goal is to raise 500 billion euros which will be invested in highly speculative projects that have the potential for greater returns. It is considered important that investments aim to create jobs and improve competitiveness in key sectors such as energy, the environment and healthcare. Udo BULLMANN (S&D, DE) and José Manuel FERNANDES (EPP, PT) are the rapporteurs for ECON and BUDG committees respectively. 

Panama Papers: Parliament backed by 492 votes to 50 with 136 abstentions, a resolution wrapping up 18 months’ work by the special committee, set up in June 2015 in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations. Major recommendations made by the committee include regularly updated, standardised, interconnected and publicly accessible beneficial ownership registers of companies, foundations, trusts and similar legal arrangements. Read more.  

Expansion of the Schengen Area: MEPs gave the green light for Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen border check-free area as they consider that the two member states have fulfilled the required criteria. Croatia is also likely to join once it has met the requirements. The next stage of the process requires the EU Council to back the decision unanimously.  

EU Foreign and Defence PolicyMEPS voted in favour of two resolutions to strengthen security and defence in the EU. The new proposed changes to the Common Foreign and Security Policy are to appoint a Directorate-General for Defence, make sure member states spend 2 per cent of their national budgets on defence and introduce an EU defence budget. Suggested changes to the Common Security and Defence Policy are to toughen and quicken the diplomatic response to Russia which has repeatedly violated international law. The resolution on CFSP was backed with 408 votes to 132, with 102 abstentions and on CSDP was backed with 368 votes to 237, with 61 abstentions. The rapporteur for CSDP is Michael GAHLER (EPP, DE), while David MCALLISTER (EPP, DE) was rapporteur on CFSP.  

New EU Farming Policy: Parliament voted through reforms on Wednesday that aims to modernise the Common Agricultural Policy. The new rules to be introduced will ensure farmers’ organisations will have more power in negotiating contracts with supermarkets. Farmers will also be better supported ahead of both natural and market uncertainties. Further to these changes, monetary incentives will be introduced to attract young farmers to the sector. The reform will be introduced on 1 January 2018 if the EU Council backs it. The reform was backed with 503 votes to 87, with 13 abstentions. Albert DESS (EPP, DE) is Parliament’s rapporteur.  

Authorisation of phosphate additives in kebab meat: Parliament voted on an objection to Commission proposals that would allow phosphates to be used as additives in products such as doner kebabs. The objection, which was tabled by Greens/EFA group MEP Bart STAES and the S&D group’s Christel SCHALDEMOSE, received strong support but fell short of the required absolute majority of 376. 

Rohingya crisis: MEPs called for an inter-governmental summit to end the ongoing persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. The resolution which was passed during the plenary urges the Myanmar government to: condemn unequivocally all incitement to racial or religious hatred and combat social discrimination and hostilities against the Rohingya minority; work with international aid agencies, the EU and the UN to allow immediate, unhindered humanitarian access to Rakhine state; end the segregation of the Rohingya population; and immediately cease its use of landmines and remove all mines already laid. 

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Get to know:

Lambert VAN NISTELROOLJ (EPP, NL) in 5 questions.
Mr VAN NISTELROOLJ has been an MEP since 2004 and
is member of the committee on regional development (REGI). He is a three-time MEP Award winner and   Parliament's  co-rapporteur on the report on the establishment of a structural reform support programme for the period 2017-2020.

Want to know more? Click here for information on our Dods People EU service.

European Commission:

Communications Networks Content and Technology (DG CNECT): 

Directorate A – Digital Industry: Lucilla SIORI, formerly Head of Unit F4 (Digital Economy and Skills), has been appointed as Director of Directorate A, replacing Khalil ROUHANA, Deputy Director-General of DG CNECT who held the role in an acting capacity.
Directorate E – Future Networks: Pearse O'DONOHUE has been appointed Director of Directorate E, a position he previously held only on an acting basis. Mr O'DONOHUE was Head of Unit E2 (Cloud and Software), and leaves his Deputy, Pierre CHASTANET, as the most senior figure in the Unit. 


Interview with Eva MAYDELL:

In an interview with the Parliament Magazine, Eva MAYDELL MEP  talked about why the digital single market will never be completed, the important links between education, entrepreneurship and tech, and the upcoming Bulgarian EU Council presidency. Read the interview.
Eva MAYDELL has been an MEP since 2014. She is a member of the committee on internal market and consumer protection and the delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China, while she was recently elected as president of the European Movement International.


Public affairs:

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Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC): Rainer JANSSEN, managing director projects of WIP Renewable Energies was elected as president for a three-year mandate. Roger NORDMAN was also elected as Vice-President. 

European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing public services (CEEP): Katherina REICHE re-elected as president.  

European Community Shipowners' Association: Panagiotis LASKARIDIS was elected as the new president of the association, succeeding Niels SMEDEGAARD for a two-year mandate, starting on 1 January.  

Gas Infrastructure Europe (gie): Jean-Marc LEROY was re-elected as president.  

MedPharmPlast Europe (MPPE): James STERN, global business development manager for healthcare at Albis was appointed as president.  

Rail Sector Social Dialogue: Giorgio TUTI, president of the ETF Railway Section became president of the Sectoral Social Dialogue for Railways. Matthias ROHRMANN was appointed as Vice-President.  


News in a nutshell:

Brexit: EU leaders agreed during the EU Summit on Friday 15 December to move on to the second phase of the Brexit talks. 

Earlier last week, UK Brexit Secretary David DAVIS’ comments that the deal struck between the EU and UK last Friday is not “legally enforceable” sparked anger among the political groups’ leaders in the European Parliament. Guy VERHOFSTADT, who chairs Parliament’s Brexit steering group, called for the first phase deal to be transposed into legally binding text and branded the comments as unacceptable. Following his reaction of the later, DAVIS confirmed the Brexit deal will be enshrined in the UK law.  

Previously, MEPs backed a resolution recommending Brexit talks to move to phase two. The resolution was passed by 556 votes to 62, with 68 abstentions. EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel BARNIER, who addressed the chamber during the plenary session in Strasbourg, stressed that “trust is key to our talks. It is more than just a word and we cannot build a future relationship without trust.”
Just before heading in Brussels for the EU Summit, UK prime minister Theresa MAY suffered an embarrassing blow after a rebellion by her own party MPs, resulting in losing a crunch vote calling for Westminster to be given a "meaningful vote" on the final deal. Guy VERHOFSTADT welcomed the vote result by tweeting “British Parliament takes back control. European and British Parliament together will decide on the final agreement. Interests of the citizens will prevail over narrow party politics.” 

However, MAY tried to downplay the defeat by insisting the Government’s landmark Brexit Bill is still “making good progress.”  
MAY now faces a new challenge on Wednesday 20 December, over her plans to enshrine the date of Brexit in the UK law, after her rebel Conservative MPs warned that she would lose the bid.  

Austria: A coalition government between the People’s Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) under Sebastian KURZ was formed. Karin KNEISSL was appointed minister for foreign and European affairs and Hartwig LÖGER as minister for finance.

Czech Republic: the new minority cabinet under Andrej BABIŠ was sworn in on Thursday 13 December. Martin STROPNICKÝ was appointed as foreign minister, replacing Lubomír ZAORÁLEK. Alena SCHILLEROVÁ took over from Ivan PILNÝ as finance minister. BABIŠ attended his first EU Summit as prime minister on 14 and 15 December in Brussels.  

Italy: will likely hold a general election on 4 March 2018, according to the Italian press. 


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


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