Movers and Shakers | 20 November 2017

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

By Ifigenia Balkoura

20 Nov 2017

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: the new MEPs, the new Vice-Presidents of the Parliament, plenary session's highlights, latest appointments in the European Commission and in public affairs, PESCO, the new health minister of Bulgaria, the re-election of the Slovenian president, Brexit and more.


European Parliament:

As previously mentioned in our column, the following MEPs joined the Parliament as members:

Thomas WAITZ (Greens/EFA, AT) on 10 November, replacing Ulrike LUNACEK.


Nadja HIRSCH (ALDE, DE), a former MEP who served from 2009 to 2014 on 8 November, replacing Alexander Graf LAMBSDORFF.

Jörg MEUTHEN (EFDD, DE) on 8 November, replacing Beatrix VON STORCH.

Martin SCHIRDENWAN (GUE/NGL, DE) on 8 November, replacing Fabio DE MASI.

Wolf KLINZ (ALDE, DE), who served as an MEP from 2004 to 2014, replacing Michel THEURER.

Ivari PADAR (S&D, EE), another former MEP (2009-2014) on 6 November 2017, replacing Marju LAURISTIN.

Jutta STEINRUCK (S&D, DE) will step down as an MEP as of 1 January 2018, to take up a new role in her native Ludwigshafen am Rhein, as mayor.

Hannu TAKKULA (ALDE, FI): see bellow in the Court of Auditors.

Vice-Presidents of the Parliament:
Lívia JÁRÓKA (EPP, HU) and Fabio Massimo CASTALDO (EFDD, IT) were elected as the new Vice-Presidents of the Parliament, replacing Ildikó GÁLL-PELCZ (EPP, HU) and Alexander Graf LAMBSDORFF (ALDE, DE) respectively. Ms JÁRÓKA becomes the first Vice-President of the Parliament of Roma origins.

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Political groups:
Monika VANA (AT) was elected as the new vice-chair of the group, replacing Heidi HAUTALA (FI), who was recently elected as a Vice-President of the Parliament.

MEPs’ news and appointments:
Seb DANCE (S&D, UK) was elected as deputy leader of the UK labour MEPs in the Parliament. A few weeks ago, his fellow MEP Richard CORBETT was elected as leader.

French S&D MEPs Guillaume BALAS and Isabelle THOMAS have left the Socialist party to join Benoît HAMON's movement 1 July Movement.

Michał BONI (EPP, PL) and Carlos ZORRINHO (S&D, PT) will host an event together with the European Brain Council on 22 November in the European Parliament. The event will explore how digital technology for healthcare can benefit the brain, and how we can ensure that these benefits reach the people who need it most.

Plenary highlights:
Lux Prize:
The European Parliament awarded the Lux prize to a Scandinavian film about racism called Sami Blood.

Formal sitting: Slovak President Andrej KISKA addressed the chamber.

Rule of law in Poland: The MEPs voted through a formal request to begin the Article 7 procedure to prevent a breach of the rule of law. If the request is accepted by the European Council then Poland’s voting rights could be suspended. MEPs are specifically uneasy about independence of the judiciary and the maintenance of fundamental rights in Poland. The vote was backed with 438 votes to 152, with 71 abstentions. The LIBE committee is now tasked with drawing up a “reasoned proposal” for the Council to trigger the law mechanism. 

Rule of Law in Malta: Following the murder of journalist Daphne CARUANA GALIZIA, MEPs backed a resolution regarding the rule of law in Malta. The resolution asks the European Commission to launch an independent investigation into her murder and establish a dialogue with the Maltese government regarding its rule of law. The resolution was backed with 466 votes to 49, with 160 abstentions.

Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) regulation:  MEPs voted through a resolution to improve the protection of consumers from scams and rogue traders. New rules aim to increase the transparency of online marketplaces for shoppers and to ensure that groups or individuals that breach the new rules will be subject to penalties and fines. Under the new regulation, the national enforcement authorities will be empowered to detect online consumer protection law breaches. The legislative text was backed with 591 votes to 80, with 15 abstentions. Olga SEHNALOVÁ (S&D, CZ) is Parliament’s rapporteur. 

Anti-Dumping rules: Parliament backed an informal agreement between MEPs and Council negotiators to impose tougher rules on receiving cheap imports from countries outside the EU. The desired effect is to protect EU jobs and businesses, by introducing international social and environmental standards for non-EU trade partners. Chair for the international trade committee (INTA) Bernd LANGE (S&D, DE) said. “We’ve given our industries a future-proof system to effectively protect themselves from unfair practices.” The agreement was backed with 554 votes to 48, with 80 abstentions. Salvatore CICU (EPP, IT) is Parliament’s rapporteur.     

Eastern Partnership: Ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit which will be held on 24 November, MEPs welcomed the EU-related reform progress made in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova and recommended a number of measures to reward their efforts. The recommendations include among others, the set-up of a new trust fund to support the private and public investments in social and economic infrastructure, the establishment of an “EaP+” model that would provide them with the opportunity to join the customs and the energy unions, as well as the Schengen area and abolishing the roaming tariffs. Laima ANDRIKIENĖ (EPP, LT) and Knut FLECKENSTEIN (S&D, DE) are the co-rapporteurs.

Composition of the committees and delegations:

Ivari PADAR (S&D, EE) joined the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE) and the delegation to the EU-Ukraine parliamentary association committee (D-UA).

Caroline NAGTEGAAL-VAN DOORN (ALDE, NL) joined the committee on economic and monetary affairs (ECON).

Nadja HIRSCH (ALDE, DE) joined the committee on international trade (INTA).

Wolf KLINZ (ALDE, DE) joined the committee on economic and monetary affairs (ECON).

Thomas WAITZ (Greens/EFA, AT) joined the delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo (D-SEE).

Michel REIMON (Greens/EFA, AT) joined the committee on foreign affairs (AFET).

Mireille D'ORNANO (EFDD, FR) joined the committee on development (DEVE), replacing Raymond FINCH (EFDD, UK).

Ivari PADAR (S&D, EE) joined the committee on employment and social affairs (EMPL), the Committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI) 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).

Caroline NAGTEGAAL-VAN DOORN (ALDE, NL) joined the committee on industry, research and energy (ITRE).

Thomas WAITZ (Greens/EFA, AT) joined the committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI), the delegation to the EU-Serbia stabilisation and association parliamentary committee (D-RS) and the delegation to the EU-Montenegro stabilisation and association parliamentary committee (D-ME).

Alyn SMITH (Greens/EFA, UK) left the committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI) and joined the Committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE).

Florian PHILIPPOT (EFDD, FR) joined the committee on development (DEVE). 

Raymond FINCH (EFDD, UK) joined the committee on foreign affairs (AFET).


European Commission:

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NEW: The European Commission is inviting applications for members of a new High Level Group on the issue of fake news and online disinformation, due to hold its first meeting in January. Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya GABRIEL was tasked to look into the issue by President JUNCKER, and has also set up a public consultation to gauge EU citizens’ views on the subject. In establishing the group, the Commission hopes to gather experts to provide advice on the subject, assess current measures to tackle the issue, and provide guidance for further action. Applications close on 11 December.

Communication Directorate-General (COMM):

Directorate B – Representations: Unit B1, currently headed by Paavo MAKINEN on an acting basis, now has responsibility for Country Strategies and Capacity Building.
Unit B2 is now responsible for Political Intelligence and Communication Actions, and is now led by Jan MICHAL, taking over from Christiane WALCHER, Deputy Head of the unit, who held the role on an acting basis. Mr MICHAL was previously International Relations Counsellor at the Secretariat General.
Directorate C – Communication with Citizens: Alessandro GIORDANI, previously Head of Communications at the Commission's representation in Italy, becomes Head of Unit C3 (Citizens' Contact), taking over from Acting Head of Unit Marie-Thérèse DUFFY-HÄUSLER, who returns to her role as Deputy Head of that unit.
Directorate D – Resources: Jean-Jaques CAVEZ departs as Head of Unit D4 (Technologies) for ECFIN, and is replaced by Tomek PIETRZAK, previously of Directorate R at ECFIN.

Economic and Financial Affairs Directorate-General (ECFIN):
Directorate B – Investment, Growth and Structural Reforms: Following Emmanuelle MAINCENT’s departure for DG BUDG, Directorate B’s Director Mary Veronica TOVŠAK PLETERSKI takes over as acting Head of Unit B2 (Assessment and Benchmarking of National Reforms).
Directorate L – Treasury and Financial Operations: Alienor DUVILLET-MARGERIT, previously working at the European Parliament, becomes Head of Unit L6 (Stability Mechanisms and Legal Affairs), taking over from her Deputy Irmantas SIMONIS, who held the role on an acting basis.

Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union Directorate-General (FISMA):
Directorate B – Investment and Company Reporting: Martin ŠPOLC departs as Head of Unit B2 (Economic Analysis and Evaluation) for Directorate C, leaving his former Deputy Leonie BELL as Acting Head of Unit.
Directorate C – Financial Markets: Following Niall BOHAN's move to ECFIN, former Head of Unit B2 Martin ŠPOLC takes over as Head of Unit C1 (Capital Markets Union).
Directorate E – Financial System Surveillance and Crisis Management: Marie DONNAY, previously of Directorate E at ECFIN, takes over as Head of Unit E4 (Resolution and Crisis Management), reprising the role from her Deputy, Emiliano TORNESE, who held the role on an interim basis.

Interpretation Directorate-General (SCIC):
Interpretation Department V: Luisa CASTELLANI leaves SCIC and is replaced on an interim basis by Head of Unit for Spanish Language Interpreting, Natalia SANCHEZ-CALERO GUILARTE.

Health and Food Safety Directorate-General (SANTE):
Directorate B – Health Systems, Medical Products and Innovation: Thea EMMERLING, formerly Minister Counsellor in the EU delegation to the United States, joins as Head of Unit B2 (Health in All Policies, Global Health, Tobacco Control). The position was previously vacant.


European External Action Service (EEAS):

Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO): 23 EU countries have signed up to a defence cooperation pact, dubbed PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation). PESCO is both a permanent framework for further collaboration between member countries and a system to steadily increase cooperation on defence matters. Observers have suggested that PESCO marks the beginning of a process to fully integrate EU policy on defence. It also includes a commitment to increase the share of national defence spending to two per cent, a condition of being a member of Nato.  The pact will be officially launched at a summit in December. Read more.


European Defence Agency (EDA):

Olli RUUTU was appointed as the new deputy chief executive as of March 2018. Mr RUUTU is currently the deputy national armaments director at the Finnish ministry of defence and director of the materiel unit at the Resource Policy Department.


European Court of Auditors (ECA):

MEPs backed the following nominations:


The nomination of Karel PINXEN (BE) was rejected. The Council will now vote on the appointments.


Permanent Representations:

France: Philippe LÉGLISE-COSTA officially took over Pierre SELLAL as permanent representative on Monday 20 November.


Public affairs:

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European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM): Pier ERINGA, CEO of ProRail was elected as the new president of the organisation. He succeeded Antti VEHVILÄINEN.


News in a nutshell:

Brexit: Following the conclusion of the sixth negotiating round on Friday 10 November, the EU chief negotiator Michel BARNIER set the UK a two-week deadline to show sufficient progress has been achieved in order to be able to recommend to the European Council the initiation of the second phase of the Brexit talks in December.

The UK prime minister now faces the prospect of a major rebellion by the Conservative MPs over her bid to enshrine into law the date Britain leaves the European Union. However, Justice Secretary David LIDINGTON refused to rule out the possible U-turn, by ditching the plan to enshrine Brexit date in law to avoid a defeat in the Commons. MAY is also reportedly set to offer the European Union an extra £20bn as part of Britain’s divorce bill.

The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David DAVIS announced the introduction of a separate Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill. The MPs will be given a binding vote on the terms of the final Brexit deal struck between the Government and the rest of the EU,   but DAVIS mentioned that voting down the deal would essentially mean ending up leaning the EU without a deal.

The European Parliament’s EPP group leader, Manfred WEBER, has voiced renewed optimism about the eventual outcome of the ongoing Brexit talks after meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Bulgaria: Kiril ANANIEV was appointed as the new health minister. He succeeded Nikolai PETROV, who resigned amid a conflict of interest scandal, in his capacity while head of the military medical academy

Finland: The Blue Reform group was officially approved as a party on 15 November, after receiving endorsement of  5.000 supporters. The party which is chaired by former MEP Sampo TERHO (ECR) and current minister for European affairs, split off from the Finns party and was initially called “New Alternative”.

Germany: The coalition talks collapsed, after the Free Democratic Party (FDP) pulled out.

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


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