Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: Spitzenkandidaten debates continue on the eve of the European elections, European Commission appointments, the departure of a British Minister, results of the Spanish national election, Brexit and more!
Greek MEP Georgios EPITHELIOS has left his party, Golden Dawn, and become an independent after the party failed to include him in the ballot for the upcoming European elections.
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Following the rather dry first European Commission president debate between Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE) and Frans TIMMERMANS (S&D, NL) earlier in the month, five Spitzenkandidaten including Timmermans, Jan ZAHRADIL (ECR, CZ), Violeta TOMIĆ (L-GUE/NGL) Bas EICKHOUT (Greens/EFA) and Guy VERHOFSTADT (ALDE) gathered in Maastricht to spar on issues including the digital age, sustainable growth and future of Europe. Weber was notably missing from this second debate. According to a poll conducted by the organisers, the audience favoured TIMMERMANS (43%), followed by EICKHOUT (36%), VERHOFSTADT (9%), ZAHRADIL (7%) and TOMIĆ (5%). The second debate is scheduled for Thursday in Florence, Italy.
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Human Resources and Security (DG HR)
Ewoud SAKKERS has been appointed Head of Unit E1 (European Civil Service Law & Security Dialogue), replacing former Acting Head of Unit Marco-Umberto MORICCA.
International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO)
Maria Manuela CABRAL has left the position of Head of Unit B2 (Resistance, Fragility) with Patrick RABE becoming Acting Head of Unit.
Research and Innovation (DG RTD)
Aleš FIALA has left the position of Head of Unit B4 (Research Infrastructures), with Adam TYSON becoming Acting Head of Unit.
Cabinet of Corina CREŢU
Borislava WOODFORD has been appointed as a Member of the Cabinet of Corina CREŢU; covering policy areas such as Migration and Territorial Cooperation in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
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Labour’s manifesto for the European Parliament will not contain a pledge to hold a second referendum on the issue of Brexit. The party’s ruling national executive committee agreed on Tuesday that another nationwide poll should only be “an option” if it cannot force a general election or force the government to change its deal with the EU.
Defence Secretary Gavin WILLIAMSON has been sacked following an investigation into a leak from a high-level government meeting on the Chinese tech firm Huawei; which he denies involvement in. He has been replaced with International Development Secretary Penny MORDAUNT. For more regular, in-depth updates on UK ministerial appointments, Dods People publishes 'People Moves' every Monday on Central Lobby.
Both the Conservative (ACRE) and Labour (PES) parties suffered major losses in Thursday’s English local elections, with Labour having lost control of two councils and 79 councillors and the Conservatives sixteen councils and 442 councillors at the moment, with more results, plus all results from Northern Ireland, coming in this afternoon. The main beneficiaries were the Liberal Democrats (ALDE), Greens (EGP) and Independents. UKIP (ENF) also suffered major losses compared to the 2015 council elections, however they were standing significantly less candidates.
The new Estonian government led by Prime Minister Jüri RATAS was formally sworn into office in the Estonian Parliament on Monday morning. Each of the three coalition partners; RATAS’ Centre Party (ALDE), the Pro Patria Party (EPP) and the far-right Conservative People’s Party each have five ministers in the government.
However, there has already been one resignation. Conservative People’s Party member Marti KUUSIK has stepped down from his post as IT and foreign trade minister amidst allegations of domestic violence. Allegations of drink driving had emerged prior to the government being sworn in however these were not seen as being serious enough to not allow him to serve in government.
President Klaus IOHANNIS has agreed to the appointments of three interim ministers Ana BIRCHALL as interim Minister for Justice, Eugen TEODOROVICI as interim Minister for European Funds, and Radu-Stefan OPREA as interim Minister for Romanians Abroad. This follows the resignations of Tudorel TOADER, Rovana PLUMB and Natalia-Elena INTOTERO earlier this month.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro SÁNCHEZ’s Socialists emerged victorious in Spain’s national election on Sunday, however they fell short of an outright parliamentary majority and will need to seek coalition partners. The People’s Party (EPP) received the worst election result in the history of the party, as the right-wing vote split between the liberal Citizens Party (ALDE) and the far-right VOX. VOX entered parliament for the first time and received 10% of the vote, but underperformed polling expectations.
SÁNCHEZ has several government options to pursue. The primary option is with the far-left Podemos Party (GUE-NGL) being the main partner of the socialists, supported by a collection of smaller regionalist parties such as the Valencian Compromís (EFA). Another option would be to pursue government with the liberal Citizen’s Party (ALDE); however Albert RIVERA, President of Citizens, has ruled out governing with SÁNCHEZ.
In other news, Spain’s Central Electoral Commission has blocked ousted Catalan President Carles PUIGDEMONT and two of his former ministers from running in next month’s European Parliament elections. All three had fled Spain to avoid arrest after PUIGDEMONT’s regional government’s unilateral independence referendum in October 2017. A petition had been submitted by the People’s Party (EPP) and Citizen’s Party (ALDE) which demanded the trio’s candidacies be declared ineligible as they were “fugitives” abroad.