Movers and Shakers | 21 May 2018

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

By Ifigenia Balkoura

21 May 2018

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: the hearing in the European Parliament with the CEO of facebook, latest appointments in the European Commission and public affairs, Brexit, the political situation in Italy, ministerial changes in Croatia and Lithuania and more.

European Parliament:

Paavo VÄYRYNEN (ALDE, FI) will leave his seat in the Parliament on 12 June to return to Finnish politics and set up his own parliamentary group. Mirja VEHKAPERÄ will be replacing him. Mr VÄYRYNEN was an MEP from 1995 to 2007 and from 2014 onwards and is a Vice-Chair of the committee on development (DEVE).

National parties:
Siegfried MUREŞAN (EPP, RO) left the People’s Movement Party (PMP) and joined the National Liberal Party (PNL).

Latest news:
Mark ZUCKERBERG, CEO and founder of Facebook accepted an invitation from the European Parliament and will meet the leaders of its political groups and the chair of the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE) on 22 May from 18.15 to 19.30. The hearing will be behind closed doors. President Antonio TAJANI announced on Monday 21 May that ZUCKERBERG accepted Parliament's request to webstream the meeting.
Prior to this, ALDE group leader Guy VERHOFSTADT said that he will not attend the meeting if it is not a public hearing. The S&D group also called for the meeting to be open and transparent.
Greens/EFA group co-leaders Ska KELLER and Philippe LAMBERTS welcomed the development, but were unhappy that the meeting will be private. German Greens MEP Jan Philipp ALBRECHT, Vice-Chair of the LIBE committee and rapporteur for the general data Protection regulation (GDPR) will also attend the meeting.
In a press release, ECR group co-chair Syed KAMALL said that “this will be a good opportunity for Mr ZUCKERBERG to demonstrate that Facebook understand our concerns and show they’re protecting data and applying EU rules and standards. The meeting should be about providing real answers and educating the public, but I am concerned that some in the Parliament will want to turn this issue into a witch hunt of large companies, which doesn't benefit anyone.”

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European Commission:

Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI):

Directorates A, B, C – International; Quality, Research & Innovation, Outreach; Strategy, Simplification and Policy Analysis:  Previously Directorate B quality policy adviser Georges VASSILAKIS has been appointed as quality policy adviser for Directorates A, B and C, reporting now directly to the Deputy Director-General Maria Angeles BENITEZ SALAS.
Directorate I – Legal, institutional and procedural matters: Cristina CARRASCO LORENTE was appointed as new head of the agricultural law unit replacing Meike WOLF, who stays as deputy head of this same unit.

Communication (COMM):
Directorate C – Communication with Citizens: Current deputy Director-General Sixtine BOUYGUES was appointed as acting director of Directorate C, replacing Viviane HOFFFMANN, who has started her new role as deputy Director-General for the DG EAC.

Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA):
Directorate A – Resources and Communication: Tatyana PANOVA was appointed as head, financial resources and internal control, replacing current head of economic analysis and evaluation Nathalie STEFANOWICZ, who was acting in the role.

Trade (TRADE):
Sandra GALLINA (IT) Helena KÖNING (SE) were appointed as new deputy Directors-General as of 16 May. Ms GALLINA was director, sustainable development; economic partnership agreements, Africa-Caribbean and Pacific, agri-food and fisheries, while Ms KÖNING was director, Asia and Latin America in the same DG.

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

Pia AHRENKILDE HANSEN was officially appointed as deputy Secretary-General as of 16 May, having previously been acting in the role since March.

Facts of the appointments:
With these three appointments of deputy Directors-General, the Commission has reached its target to appoint female deputy Directors-General to 43 per cent, up from 11 per cent back in November 2014.

Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Brussels (OIB):
The European Commission has decided to extend Marc MOULIGNEAU's mandate as Director of the OIB until 31 January 2019.

Public affairs:

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Merger: EPPA and PACT European Affairs merged their services and network and relaunched as The European Training Institute (ETI). Stefan SCHEPERS, chairman of EPPA and Daniel GUÉGUEN, founder of the European Training Institute will be developing a number of trainings, Daniel GUÉGUEN and Vicky MARISSEN will be associate partner and partner at EPPA respectively.

BOLDT: Karl-Heinz HEUSER was appointed as chairman, succeeding Herbert HEITMANN, who is leaving his post to set up his own consultancy, but will be looking to work with BOLDT.

BSA | The Software Alliance: Eleni CHRONOPOULOU started this week as Senior Manager, Policy – EMEA in the Brussels office led by Thomas BOUÉ. She joins from the European Parliament in Brussels where she was a Political & Legal Adviser for two MEPs, focusing on issues related to the data protection directive, digital content directive and general data protection regulation. Eleni holds an LLB from the University of Athens, Greece and an LLM in International and European Law from Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Belgium.

European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA): Antonio LOPRIENO became the new president on 17 May for a three-year term. He took over from Günter STOCK.

Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT): Peter VAN BLADEREN, chairman of the supervisory board of EIT Food’s board of management, stepped down as member and chair as of 10 May. His successor will be announced in due time.
Romana JORDAN (SI), Agnès PILLARD (FR) and Gioia GHEZZI (IT) were appointed as members of the Governing Board as of 1 July for a four-year mandate. 

Global Shippers Forum (GSF): Sean Van DORT was appointed as the new chairman, taking over from Bob BALLANTYNE.


News in a nutshell:

Brexit:  On 14 May, EU chief negotiator Michel BARNIER told the EU ministers during the General affairs Council that “no significant progress has been made since March”, raising concerns as to whether there will be substantial progress in the upcoming European Council summit on 28-29 June.  The Irish border remains one of the key issues.

BARNIER met with Simon COVENEY, deputy Prime Minister of Ireland and minister for foreign affairs and trade, also in charge of Brexit, who said, “we are united in seeking substantial progress by June with the UK on the Irish border backstop text”. COVENEY also said during a meeting with Fine Gel MPs and Senators that “it’s better to have a crisis in Brexit talks next month, rather than later this year”.

UK Prime Minster Theresa MAY met with European Commission president Jean-Claude JUNCKER and Council president Donald TUSK at the framework of the Western Balkans Summit in Sofia on 17 May, where they discussed the Brexit negotiations and the progress made so far. On the Irish border, MAY said that the European Commission’s proposal is unacceptable and that the UK will submit its own backstop proposal within the next two weeks to avoid a deadlock. She agreed with them on the need to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and the need for a strong security partnership between EU and the UK after Brexit. Mrs MAY also met with the Irish Prime Minister Leo VARADKAR, who welcomed the “new insights” into the UK’s thinking.   

UK Home Secretary Sajid JAVID met with European Parliament’s chief negotiator, Guy VERHOFSTADT on Wednesday 16 May, when they agreed to work closely together to provide more certainty to both EU and UK citizens post-Brexit.

In the UK, the Scottish Parliament rejected the EU (Withdrawal) Bill by 93 votes to 30. The motion was backed by the Labour party, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. The Scottish Government has also argued that many powers that are currently under the devolved administrations will return to Westminster post Brexit, which they said would be a power grab. The bill, however, was backed by the Welsh Assembly.

The House of Lords voted by 294 to 244 in favour of an amendment to the EU Bill to enshrine European environmental protection into the UK law, inflicting another blow to the Government. The vote also coincides with European Commission’s legal action against the UK for repeatedly breaching legally binding EU air pollution rules.

According to the Guardian, Theresa MAY could appoint 10 new peers to prop up her position in the House of Lords and avoid further defeats over Brexit. The upper House of the Parliament has already inflicted 15 defeats in the Withdrawal Bill.  

Elsewhere in the UK, the campaign group Best for Our Future was fined £2,000 penalty for failing to submit documents about donations.

Catalonia: Quim TORRA was sworn in as the new president.

Croatia: Martina DALIĆ, deputy prime minister and minister for the economy, resigned over allegations of conflict of interest.

Italy: Far-right League and the 5-Star Movement completed their political programme and will present it to President Sergio MATTARELLA on Monday 21 May.

Lithuania: Elvinas JANKEVICIUS was appointed as the new justice minister, replacing Milda VAINIUTE, who resigned amid criticism of reforms in the prison system.



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