Movers and Shakers | 21 November 2016

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

By Ifigenia Balkoura

21 Nov 2016

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: the re-election of EPP and ALDE Chairs, latest appointments in the Commissions and public affairs, brexit, the backing of Frank-Walter Steinmeier as Germany's next President, new governments in Estonia and Denmark and more.

European Parliament:

Iliana IOTOVA (S&D, BU) will leave her seat in the European Parliament to assume her new post, as Vice-President of Bulgaria as of 22 January 2017. IOTOVA is a Vice-Chair of the LIBE Committee and the Delegation to the EU-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, as well as Head of the S&D Bulgarian delegation. Peter KURUMBASHEV is next in line to replace her.  

Political Groups:
EPP Group: Manfred WEBER (DE) was re-elected as Chair of the group with 97.8% for another two and a half year term. WEBER gave a press conference following his re-election and also talked about the next President of the European Parliament. He said he supports a continuation of the agreement he signed with Martin SCHULZ, but ruled out the possibility of ALDE Group Chair Guy VERHOFSTADT (BE) becoming Parliament’s President. Read more. The following MEPs were re-elected as Vice-Presidents: Lara COMI (IT), Esther DE LANGE (NL), Mariya GABRIEL (BU), Esteban GONZÁLEZ PONS (ES), Françoise GROSSETÊTE (FR), Sandra KALNIETE (LT), Marian-Jean MARINESCU (RO), Paulo RANGEL (PT); József SZÁJER (HU), and Tadeusz ZWIEFKA (PO) (elected).

ALDE Group: Guy VERHOFSTADT (BE) was re-elected as President of the group.

ECR Group: According to Parliament Magazine sources, MEP Hans-Olaf HENKEL (DE) sent an email to his fellow MEPs in order to promote his candidacy for the leadership of the party. However, the official nomination process is not open until 13 December.

Greens/EFA Group: Rebecca HARMS (DE) will step down from the co-presidency of the group next month. The deadline for the candidacies is 4 December ahead of the leadership elections that will be held on 13 December during the plenary session in Strasbourg.

Vice-Chairs of the Committees, Subcommittees and the Delegations:
Dubravka ŠUICA (EPP, HR) was elected 4th Vice-Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), replacing Andrej PLENKOVIĆ who was elected as Prime Minister of Croatia.

Substitutes of the Committees, Subcommittees and the Delegations:
Željana ZOVKO (EPP, HR) joined the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (D-LAT).
Ivica TOLIĆ (EPP, HR) joined the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN).
Ivana MALETIĆ (EPP, HR) joined the Committee on Budgets (BUDG).

Committees’ news:
On 14 November the IMCO Working Group on the Digital Single Market held a meeting on Completing the Digital Single Market for European Consumers and citizens: Tackling Geo-Blocking in the EU. The focus of the Working Group was on the legislative environment of the geo-blocking regulation and the scope of the regulation. Read Dods EU Monitoring's summary of the discussion.

Plenary session:
MEPs are in Strasbourg from Monday 21 to Thursday 24 November.

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

European Commission:

Latest news:
On 14th November the Commission launched a new Task Force on Financial Technology (TFFT). The Task Force aims to harness innovation and opportunities in the area of FinTech and develop a coherent and comprehensive strategy for the Commission. The Task Force will bring together staff from across the Commission with expertise in areas concerning finance and digital technology. The internal team will also consult with external stakeholders and present policy recommendations to Commissioners in the first half of 2017.
On 16th November the Commission proposed the creation of a ‘European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)’. The aim of the system will be to reinforce security checks on visa-free travellers by gathering information and conducting advance irregular migration and security checks. Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will have to obtain a travel authorisation before they travel to the Schengen area, which will cost €5.00 and will be valid for five years. The system will be managed by the European Border and Coast Guard.
Spokesperson's Service:
Planning and coordination team: Julia BRÄUER joined the team as acting Press Officer – Midday Coordinator and Daniel FERRIE became Press Officer for Article 50 Negotiations with the UK.
Budget (BUDG):
Directorate B – Own Resources and financial planning: Andreas SCHWARZ became Head of Unit, ‘Multiannual financial framework; funding systems and forecasts; budgetary aspects of enlargement’, replacing Pascal STELLER who was acting in the role. Mr SCHWARZ moves to DG BUDG from the Cabinet of Commissioner Kristalina GEORGIEVA where he was Deputy Head of Cabinet.

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Competition (COMP):
Directorate E – Markets and Cases IV – Basic Industries, Manufacturing and Agriculture: Eduardo MARTINEZ-RIVERO became acting Head of Unit, ‘State aid, Industrial restructuring’, replacing Joachim LUECKING. Mr MARTINEZ-RIVERO is also Head of Unit, ‘Antitrust, Telecoms’, in Directorate C.
Eurostat (Statistical Office):
Directorate A – Cooperation in the European Statistical System; international cooperation; resources: Luc BRIOL became Head of Unit, ‘Budget, financial management and internal control’, replacing Susanne TAILLEMITE who was acting in the role.
Human Resources and Security (HR):
Directorate R – Shared Resource Services: Christina VLASSIS became acting Head of Unit, ‘Finance, Procurement and Internal Control’, replacing Hubert COUSIN. Mr COUSIN was seconded to DG Research and Innovation (RTD) as Head of Unit, ‘Finances’, in the Resources directorate.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE):
Directorate F – Resources: Dora CORREIA was appointed as Director, having acted in the role. Ms CORREIA was also Head of Unit, ‘Information, communication, inter-institutional relations, evaluation and programming’ and will continue in the role in an acting capacity.


European External Action Service (EEAS):

Economic and Global Issues:
Africa Multilateral Department: Girolama NOTARANGELO became Head of Division, ‘Southern Africa’, replacing Angel CARRO CASTRILLO. Patrick SPIRLET became Head of Division, ‘Central Africa’, replacing Girolama NOTARANGELO. Mr SPIRLET was previously Head of Delegation to Burundi.

Political Issues:
Middle East and North Africa Multilateral Department: Patrick COSTELLO became acting Director, Deputy Managing Director replacing Christian BERGER. Mr COSTELLO is also Head of Unit, ‘Middle East I’ in the Department. Rosamaria GILI joined the Department as Head of Division, ‘Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Regional Policies’, filling a vacant position.

CSDP and Crisis Response:
Crisis Management and Planning: Arnout MOLENAAR became acting Head of Division, ‘Coordination’, replacing Giacomo DURAZZO.

European Union Military Staff (EUMS):
Cristina MARTINS BARREIRA joined the EUMS as Head of Division, ‘Horizontal Coordination’.


Committee of the Regions (CoR):

National Delegations:
: Iñigo de la SERNA HERNÁIZ (EPP) left the CoR having served as a Member.


Public Affairs:

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New Consultancy: Bantani Education, a new Brussels-based consultancy, was launched last week and will be specialising in entrepreneurial learning policy and practice. The non-profit business works with public, community and private sector partners to embed entrepreneurial skills into any type of learning. Its activities are supported by the Bantani Facilitation services offering entrepreneurial event design and facilitation. Elin MCCALLUM is the Director of Bantani Education and Rebecca WEICHT the Head of Operations.
FTI Consulting: Antoine MIALHE joined the team. In his new role, Mr MIALHE will be leading the healthcare team in Brussels together with Petra WILSON, Senior Advisor. Prior to his appointment Antoine was Assistant to the Director of the Health Directorate within DG Research and Innovation, where he was designing and implementing policies and programmes in the healthcare sector.
Vattenfall: Anna BORG was appointed as Senior President for Business Area Markets as of 1 April 2017. Ms BORG, who will be a member of Vattenfall’s Executive Group Management and report directly to President and CEO Magnus HALL, is currently Senior Vice President and head of Klarna’s commercial operations in the Nordics. She will succeed Stefan DOHLER who was recently appointed CFO at Vattenfall. Niek DEN HOLLANDER, Head of Trading, will be acting head of Business Area Markets from 1 December to 1 April 2017.

Vacuum Insulation Panel Association, VIPA International: Gregor ERBENICH was appointed as President. He is the Head of Sales & Marketing NTI at Morgan Advanced Materials Thermal Ceramics - Porextherm and succeeds Roland CAPS, who decided to step down after his two-year term in the helm of the association.


News in a nutshell:

2017 EU Budget: After protracted talks that concluded early on Thursday, it was agreed that the EU budget for next year will be €157.9bn in commitments and €134.5bn in payment credits. The deal will come as a major disappointment to many, after Parliament had asked for total commitments to be increased to €162.42bn and total payments to €138.03bn. Read more.
Brexit: Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, the President of the European Parliament, Martin SCHULZ (S&D, DE) said it was notable that FARAGE was the “first overseas visitor” to meet TRUMP after his surprise victory in the country’s elections. He also said that “this is a man (FARAGE) who led a misleading campaign in the EU referendum and who is now apparently seen by TRUMP as his go between to the EU” and added “we have now have politicians telling us that ‘our countries must come first’ and “wanting to put up fences and walls around their countries”. Read more.

According to a European Parliament document, UKIP used €450,000 (£386,961) through the EFDD Group for polling in target seats for the 2015 vote and ahead of the EU referendum. Read more.  FARAGE hit back by denying any wrong doing and claiming that he is being “victimised” by bitter Brussels bosses. Read more. Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Richard CORBETT (S&D, UK) said the institution had been a "gift" to UKIP and the National Front and other groups that he said sought to undermine the EU and misuse parliament’s resources to destroy EU. Read more.

Policing Minister Brandon LEWIS announced on 14 November that the Government will retain its Europol membership at least until Brexit, by opting into the new regulations which take effect in May 2017, “without prejudice” in relation to Brexit negotiations. Read more. Last month the UK Government was warned that it risked losing vital intelligence unless it signed up to new powers for the body. Read more.

Foreign Secretary Boris JOHNSON in an interview with a Czech newspaper insisted the freedom to move between EU member states was not part of the Treaty of Rome and added "It's a total myth – nonsense”. Read more. JOHNSON became the first minister to publicly say quitting the EU will probably see Britain leaving the European customs union. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen DIJSSELBLOEM commented that such a circumstance “doesn’t exist” and Mr JOHNSON was putting forward options that “are not available”. Read more. He claims that not giving the UK a good post-Brexit trade deal would damage exporters in other European countries, including producers of the famous Italian sparkling wine, sparking outrage. The Italian Minister for Economic Development accused him of making “insulting” comments about his country being able to sell prosecco. Read more.

According to a survey by NatCen Social Research, 90% of voters want Britain to stay in the European single market after Brexit and believe the Prime Minister should make that a key demand in her negotiations with EU leaders, regardless of how they voted in the referendum. Read more.

Lady HALE, the Deputy President of the Supreme Court, warned ahead of the hearing of the Government’s Article 50 appeal that ministers could be forced to spend months replacing EU laws before finally beginning the Brexit process and argued that the Government may have to come up with a "comprehensive replacement" for the 1972 European Communities Act. Read more.

Former Cabinet Secretary, Gus O'Donnell said that the UK civil service is not prepared for delivering Britain's withdrawal from the European Union and warned that the Government will have to stage a massive recruitment drive to cope with the "extra requirements" imposed by Brexit. Read more.

The UK Government also announced on Thursday 17 November it would not legislate to stop the Lords having a veto over secondary legislation as recommended by Tory peer Lord STRATHCLYDE. Read more.
Denmark: Prime Minister Lars Løkke RASMUSSEN announced that he will expand his government with the Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives. Talks for a three-party coalition government will start on Monday 21 November.

Estonia: Center Party, the Social Democrats, and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) agreed to form a new coalition on Saturday 19 November. President Kersti KALJULAID tasked Jüri RATAS, Center Party to form the new government. Sven MIKSER, Social Democratic Party was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, while Sven SESTER, IRL will continue as Finance Minister.

France: Former Economy Minister, Emmanuel MACRON officially announced his presidential bid on Wednesday 16 November.
Germany: On Monday 14 November CDU/CSU alliance (EPP) backed Foreign Minister Frank-Walter STEINMEIER, Social Democrat Party (S&D) as Germany’s next President. STEINMEIER, who is set to assume the ceremonial post next year for a five-year term, will succeed Joachim GAUCK who will retire.
Angela MERKEL, CDU (EPP) officially announced that she will run for a fourth term.
Lithuania: On Thursday 17 November, President Dalia GRYBAUSKAITĖ nominated former Police Chief and Interior Minister, Saulius SKVERNELIS, candidate of Peasants and Greens Union (Greens/EFA) as candidate for Prime Minister. Last week Peasants and Greens Union agreed with the Social Democrats to form a coalition government, following the elections in late-October. The new government is expected to take office in December.  
Malta: Speaking in Brussels, Ian BORG, Malta's Parliamentary Secretary for the EU Council presidency, said social inclusion, migration and the single market will be high on the agenda of the presidency, along with the maritime sector. BORG was the keynote speaker at a pre-presidency briefing hosted by the European Policy Centre think tank at which BORG spoke of the "challenges" facing the Maltese presidency. Read more.
Candidate countries:
: President Tayyip ERDOGAN said that Turkey could hold a referendum next year on whether to continue accession talks with the EU.
The European Parliament called off an official two-member delegation trip to Turkey this week due to "disagreements" with Ankara on the format of the meetings. Read more. Kati PIRI (S&D, NL), and Elmar BROK (EPP, DE) were due in Turkey on Wednesday and Thursday for a two-day fact finding trip, but this was cancelled at short notice. PIRI told Parliament Magazine that "Turkey has crossed the line of what is acceptable for an EU candidate country and the EU has to temporarily freeze the accession talks until the Turkish government returns to the path of respect for the rule of law and human rights." Read more.
The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament have scheduled a vote on a resolution regarding the situation in Turkey and the possibility to freeze the accession talks for the next plenary session. President of the S&D Group Gianni PITTELLA stated that the accession talks should be temporarily frozen and raised concerns about democracy, freedom of press and the rule of law in Turkey.

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

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