Movers and Shakers | 19 March 2018

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

By Ifigenia Balkoura

19 Mar 2018

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: our European Commission Directorates-General wallchart, the MEP Awards, plenary session highlights, the incoming and outgoing MEPs, the election of Chair and Vice-Chairs in the PEST committee, the European Labour Authority, latest appointments in the public affairs, the political situation in Slovenia and Slovakia, the new German cabinet, Brexit and more. 

European Commission Directorates-General wallchart:

Following the recent reshuffle, our team has produced an updated version of the Commission’s Directorates-General wallchart. Please click here to download it for free.

European Parliament:

Incoming and Outgoing:
Jens NILSSON (S&D, SE) passed away on 13 March at the age of 69, following a short illness. He had been an MEP since 2011. He was a member of the committee on transport and tourism (TRAN), the committee on regional development (REGI) and the delegation for relations with Belarus (D-BY).  He was also co-president of the Social Economy intergroup. MEPs observed a one-minute silence during the plenary session.
Jean-Paul DENANOT (S&D, FR) announced he will be leaving his seat on 11 June; he will be retiring from politics. His replacement will be KARINE GLOANEC-MAURIN.
Romeo FRANZ will replace Jan ALBRECHT (Greens/EFA, DE) in the European Parliament. Mr FRANZ, who will take up his seat in September, will become the first ever Shidi Green MEP.

Special committees:
Special committee on the Union’s authorization procedure for pesticides (PEST):

The committee held its first meeting on 12 March when it elected its chair and Vice-Chairs as follows:
Chair: Eric ANDRIEU (S&D, FR)
1st Vice-Chair: Bolesław G. PIECHA (ECR, PL)
2nd Vice-Chair: Frédérique RIES (ALDE, BE)
3rd Vice-Chair: Kateřina KONEČNÁ (GUE/NGL, CZ)

The committee voted to have three Vice-Chairs instead of four.  

Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAXE III):
MEPs approved the composition of the TAXE III committee, which will be comprised of 45 members. Its first meeting will be held on 22 March, when members will elect a Chair, Vice-Chairs and rapporteurs. Peter SIMON was appointed as the S&D group coordinator. Dariusz ROSATI (PL) became EPP group’s coordinator and Tom VANDENKENDELAERE (BE) his deputy.
The full composition of the new committee can be found in our Dods People EU database.

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Plenary session highlights:
Appointment of Martin SELMAYR:
MEPs raised their voices against the appointment of Martin SELMAYR as the new European Commission Secretary-General, during a debate in Strasbourg. Commissioner for human resources Günther OETTINGER defended SELMAYR’s appointment, saying, “He combines hard work, talent, qualifications and commitment to the European idea with political nous. He also has the trust of our Commission’s President, my trust and that of the entire college of Commissioners.” However, MEPs did not share his opinion. ALDE group member Sophie IN ‘T VELD (NL) said her party could not support the JUNCKER Commission if SELMAYR stayed in the post. SELMAYR’s promotion “destroys the credibility of the European Union”, she said.
Sven GIEGOLD (Greens/EFA), a fellow German and European Parliament’s rapporteur on transparency, integrity and accountability of the EU institutions, called on Parliament to now postpone the discharge of the European Commission’s budget.

Appointment of new ECB Vice-President: MEPs backed with 331 votes in favour, 306 against and 64 abstentions the appointment of Spanish finance minister Luis DE GUINDOS as the new European Central Bank Vice-President. However, MEPs raised their concerns about gender balance, the selection procedure, the timing of the appointment and political independence. The Conference of Presidents agreed to give mandate to the President TAJANI to raise the issue in the European Council, while they also agreed to send a letter to Council and the Commission asking for the Parliament to have a proper role in the appointment. The European Council will take the final decision at the EU summit on 22-23 March.

Relocations of the European Medicines Agency (EMA): MEPs approved the European Medicines Agency's relocation to Amsterdam with 507 votes to 112, with 37 abstentions.

Murder of Ján KUCIAK: MEPs debated the shocking murder of the investigative journalist and his fiancée Martina KUŠNÍROVÁ and urged an EU independent investigation with the involvement of Europol. They called for better EU and national rules that will ensure the journalists’ safety and more efficient oversight of how EU funds are spent. The MEPs also discussed the journalist’s revelations regarding alleged misuse of EU funds in Slovakia.

Steel and aluminium tariffs: MEPs have warned of a looming trade war amid criticism of US President Donald TRUMP’s plans to impose heavy tariffs on trade in steel and aluminium. Ska KELLER, co-leader of the Greens/EFA group, told a news conference in Parliament she now fears a trade war between the EU and US, while EPP group leader Manfred WEBER said the EU must be ready to respond to the US move.

Sanctions against Marcel DE GRAAFF: Following the remarks of Marcel DE GRAAFF during a plenary debate on Wednesday, more than 50 MEPs have given their support to demands for a formal censure of controversial ENF group member for allegedly racist comments. The deputy is said to have accused Muslim people of “returning Europe back into the Middle Ages.”

Composition of the committees and delegations:

Lukas MANDL (EPP, AT) 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), replacing Claudia SCHMIDT (EPP, AT).
Miroslavs MITROFANOVS (Greens/EFA, LV) joined the committee on employment and social affairs (EMPL), the committee on petitions (PETI) and the delegation to the EU-Kazakhstan, EU-Kyrgyzstan, EU-Uzbekistan and EU-Tajikistan parliamentary cooperation committees and for relations with Turkmenistan and Mongolia (D-CAS).

Daniel DALTON (ECR, UK) joined the special committee on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides (PEST).
lhan KYUCHYUK (ALDE, BU) joined the committee on petitions (PETI).
Miroslavs MITROFANOVS (Greens/EFA, LV) joined the delegation for relations with Belarus (D-BY) and the delegation to the Euronest parliamentary assembly (D-EPA).
Mario BORGHEZIO (ENF, IT) left the committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI).


The Parliament Magazine's MEP Awards 2018:

Just two days to go until the winners are unveiled. Find out who the shortlisted MEPs are. The ceremony will be held on 21 March at the Concert Noble and will be hosted by Greek MEP Eva Kaili.
For information about the MEP Awards, please contact the Events Team:                | +44 (0)20 7593 5672


European Commission:

Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality: was launched on Tuesday 13 March in Strasbourg, as a response to consumers’ concerns about food fraud and food quality. The new Centre will be operated by the Joint Research Centre and was launched by Commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport Tibor NAVRACSICS. The new Centre will coordinate market surveillance activities, provide information to the public and operate an early warning and information system for food fraud, connect information systems of the Commission and the member states and generate country-specific knowledge.


European Labour Authority:

The European Commission adopted as part of its Social Fairness Package, a proposal to establish a European Labour Authority (ELA) to ensure that EU rules on labour mobility are enforced fairly and effectively. The new authority’s scope will be to facilitate access to information for individuals and employers on their rights and obligations, to support member state cooperation in the cross-border enforcement of relevant EU law, and to mediate and facilitate solutions in cases of cross-border disputes.

The Agency, which was announced in September 2017 by President JUNCKER in his State of the Union speech should be up and running in 2019 and reach full operational capacity by 2023. The Commission has proposed that the ELA will be a permanent structure with about 140 staff members. It will be steered by a management board which will be composed of seconded staff from the EU member states and Commission representatives and will have an annual budget of approximately €50m.


Missions to the EU:

The following ambassadors and heads of missions presented their credentials to the President of the European Council, Donald TUSK:

Grenada: H.E. Ms Cheryl J. AUGUSTINE-KANU, Ambassador, Head of Mission
United Republic of Tanzania: H.E. Mr Joseph Edward SOKOINE, Ambassador, Head of Mission
Republic of Colombia: H.E. Mr Sergio JARAMILLO CARO, Head of Mission

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


Public affairs:

Got any new appointment you would like us to include in our next newsletter? Contact Ifigenia Balkoura!

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA): Antoine LACARRIÈRE was appointed as membership manager, France, Belgium and Netherlands. In this newly created role, Antoine LACARRIÈRE will be responsible for developing the European Travel Agent Programme in all three countries, plus trade promotions, campaigns and events. He will also play a key role in engaging key stakeholders in France, Netherlands and Belgium, including cruise lines and ports, in the broader work of the Association.

European Coordination Committee of the Radiological, Electromedical and Healthcare IT Industry (COCIR): Jan KIMPEN was elected as the new President, after Joost LEEFLANG stepped down from the role.

National Energy Ombudsmen Network (NEON): Annette JANTZEN was appointed as Secretary-General, taking over from Marine CORNELIS, who had been in the role since 2012. Ms JANTZEN joined from the European Association of Public Water, where she was responsible for managing policy and communication activities.


News in a nutshell:

Brexit: MEPs endorsed a resolution tabled by the Parliament’s Brexit steering group on a possible association framework for the future EU-UK relationship post Brexit, during the plenary session. The resolution now backed by Parliament says that any framework for the future relationship could not allow any sector-by-sector approach - cherry-picking EU laws. It should also preserve the EU’s “legal order,” including the role of the ECJ.
Prior to the vote, British MEPs clashed during a debate on the resolution. The verbal spat started when Scottish National Party deputy Alyn SMITH branded Brexiteers as “useless idiots and shysters.”
During the debate Gunnar HÖKMARK (EPP, SE) said that “when our own mini TRUMP, Mr FARAGE, claims that the EU is bullying the UK, it means that he now understands the consequences of Brexit. When you are leaving the single market, you are leaving it.”
Parliament also approved legislation enabling the transfer of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from London to Amsterdam, due to Brexit.
On 15 March, the European Commission published a draft agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community. According to the draft, the UK will be in charge for its own nuclear safety and responsible for its compliance with the international obligations arising as a consequence of its membership of the International Atomic Energy Agency and of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons or any relevant international treaties or conventions to which the United Kingdom is a party.
In the UK, the Brexit Secretary David DAVIS said that Britain would go along with EU wishes for a shorter post-Brexit transition period if it meant striking a deal with the bloc.

Germany: A coalition government agreement was officially signed between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on Monday 12 March, after six-months of political uncertainty. On 14 March, the members of the SPD voted in favour of the coalition agreement and Angela MERKEL's fourth cabinet was sworn in shortly thereafter.
Olaf SCHOLZ (SPD) was appointed as Vice-Chancellor and finance minister, a position that was previously occupied by Wolfang SCHÄUBLE. Peter ALTMAIER was acting in the role since October 2017.  Heiko MAAS (SPD) became the new foreign minister, replacing Sigmar GABRIEL (SPD).

Slovakia: Prime Minister Roberto FICO offered his resignation to the President following the murder of the investigative journalist Ján KUCIAK and his fiancée. Deputy Prime Minister Peter PELLEGRINI was tasked to try to form a new government. Earlier this week, interior minister Robert KALINAK resigned following street protests over the journalists’ deaths. KALINAK is the second minister who resigned amid the political crisis over the murder within the last two weeks.

Slovenia: Prime Minister Miro CERAR resigned on Wednesday 14 March over the Supreme Court’s ruling on a referendum that was held in last September about a railway project. CERAR said he would stay in the role until a new government is formed. Slovenia’s parliamentary election is scheduled for June, but it is unclear whether it will be brought forward. 

Sweden: Lena HALLENGREN was appointed as new minister for children, the elderly and gender equality.

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

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