Today's Movers & Shakers are about: The new MEPs, the latest changes in the composition of the political groups in the Parliament and plenary's highlights, latest appointments in the European Commission and public affairs, the new President of the EESC, ministerial changes in Poland and Slovakia, EU enlargement, Brexit and more.
Italians Giuseppe FERRANDINO (S&D), Giancarlo SCOTTA' (ENF) and Danilo Oscar LANCINI (ENF) joined the Parliament as members, replacing Gianni PITTELLA, Lorenzo FONTANA and Matteo SALVINI respectively who were elected in the Italian Senate. Mr SCOTTA' has previously served as an MEP from 2009 to 2014.
Composition of the political groups:
Kazimierz Michał UJAZDOWSKI (PL) left the ECR group and now sits as a non-attached member.
Aymeric CHAUPRADE (FR) joined the EFDD group, effective 18 April. He was previously sitting as non-attached MEP.
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Composition of the committees and delegations:
Miroslavs MITROFANOVS (Greens/EFA, LV) was elected as a Vice-Chair of 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).
Ramona Nicole MĂNESCU (EPP, RO) joined the delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and the EU-Georgia parliamentary association committee (D-SCA), replacing Traian UNGUREANU (EPP, RO).
Aleksander GABELIC (S&D, SE) joined the committee on regional development (REGI) and the delegation for relations with Belarus (D-BY).
Marita ULVSKOG (S&D, SE) joined the committee on transport and tourism (TRAN).
André ELISSEN (ENF, NL) joined the delegation to the Cariforum-EU parliamentary committee (D-CAR).
Dobromir SOŚNIERZ (NI, PL) joined the committee on foreign affairs (AFET).
Marita ULVSKOG (S&D, SE) LEFT the committee on international trade (INTA).
Laurenţiu REBEGA (ECR, RO) joined the committee on regional development (REGI).
Georg MAYER (ENF, AT) joined the delegation for relations with the United States (D-US) and the delegation to the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly (D-ACP).
Dominique BILDE (ENF, FR) joined the delegation for relations with the United States (D-US).
Dominique MARTIN (ENF, FR) joined the committee on foreign affairs (AFET) and the delegation for relations with Iraq (D-IQ).
André ELISSEN (ENF, NL) joined the delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN).
Debate on the future of Europe: French President Emmanuel MACRON addressed the plenary on the future of Europe. In his speech he called for European sovereignty and said that the response to authoritarianism should be "the authority of democracy." He also said that France is willing to increase its contribution to the EU budget in the wake of Brexit and that the EU urgently needs a roadmap to reform the eurozone. Responding to his speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude JUNCKER said, "France is back."
Appointment of Martin SELMAYR: In a non-binding resolution, MEPs asked the European Commission to reassess the procedure for appointing its Secretary-General. The adopted text says other candidates should be given the possibility to apply for the role, and describes the rapid two-step promotion as a “coup-like action”. However, an amendment to the motion calling for the immediate resignation of SELMAYR was defeated during the vote on a show of hands.
Dates for the European elections: The Parliament backed the Council’s proposal for the dates of the next European elections which will be held on 23-26 May 2019. MEPs also backed the Parliament’s calendar of part-sessions for 2019.
Facebook scandal: MEPs raised their concerns in the wake of the misuse of European citizens’ personal data revelations and urged Facebook CEO Mark ZUCKERBERG to appear before the European Parliament for a debate. President Antonio TAJANI sent an invitation to ZUCKERBERG.
Vaccination hesitance: In a resolution adopted on 19 April, MEPs expressed their concerns about the rising vaccine hesitancy, while they also called for greater transparency in the production and evaluation of vaccines.
Anti-money laundering: MEPs backed an agreement reached with the Council and proposed tighter regulation for virtual currencies to prevent money-laundering and terrorism financing. The agreement proposes greater protection for the whistleblowers reporting money-laundering, tougher criteria for evaluating whether non-member states constitute an increased risk of money laundering, extension of the Directive to all forms of tax advisory services, letting agents, art dealers, electronic wallet providers and virtual currency exchange service providers. Krišjānis KARIŅŠ (EPP, LV) and Judith SARGENTINI (Greens/EFA, NL) are Parliament’s co-rapporteurs.
Organic food quality: The plenary adopted new rules to ensure that only high-quality food is sold in the EU. The new law seeks to ensure high quality of the organic food through strict and risk-based checks along the supply chain and compliance of imports with the EU standards and avoid contamination from chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilisers. It also includes the boosting of the EU organic food production by increasing the supply of organic seeds and animals to cover the famers’ needs, encouraging the conversion of mixed farms and simplification of certification of small farmers. The report was backed with 466 votes in favour to 124 against, with 50 abstentions. Martin HÄUSLING (Greens/EFA, DE) is Parliament’s rapporteur.
Circular economy: MEPs endorsed new and ambitious municipal waste recycling targets in the framework of waste and circular economy legislation. According to the draft legislation, 55 per cent of municipal waste should be recycled by 2025, while by 2030 the target will be increased to 60 per cent and 65 per cent by 2035. Regarding the packaging materials, 65 per cent should be recycled by 2025 and 70 per cent by 2030. The food waste should be reduced by 30 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030. Textiles and hazardous waste will have to be collected separately by 2025, while the share of the municipal waste being landfilled should be limited to a maximum 10 per cent by 2035.
Prevention of car emissions cheating: Parliament approved a regulation on the car approval system in order to prevent emissions cheating. The new regulation introduces a new type of car approval, as every EU member state will have to conduct a minimum number of checks and the European Commission will be able to conduct vehicles tests to confirm their compliance. Daniel DALTON (ECR, UK) is Parliament’s rapporteur. Read Dods EU Monitoring team’s briefing on the debate.
Cabinets of Commissioners:
Team of Federica MOGHERINI: Catherine RAY replaced Felix FERNANDEZ-SHAW as expert.
Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA):
Directorate E- Financial system surveillance and crisis management: Peter GRASMANN, currently head of unit, EU/Euro area financial system was appointed as acting director of the Directorate, replacing Mario NAVA.
Dirk LAPAGE was appointed as adviser for corporate IT strategy.
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW):
Directorate H – COSME Programme: Maarit NYMAN was appointed as acting head of unit, COSME Programme, SME envoys and relations with EASME, replacing Constantin ANDROPOULOS.
Directorate J – EU Satellite Navigation Programmes: Paraskevi PAPANTONIOU was appointed as acting head of unit, Galileo and EGNOS – Legal and institutional aspects, replacing Philippe JEAN.
European Economic and Social Committee (EESC):
Luca JAHIER (IT) was elected as the new President of the institution for a two-and-a-half-year mandate. He took over from Georgios DASSIS (EL). JAHIER’s main priorities will be focusing on sustainable development, the promotion of peace, strengthening of culture’s role and young people.
Milena ANGELOVA (BG) was elected as Vice-President for budget and Isabel CAÑO AGUILAR (ES) as Vice-President for communication.
Alicja HERBOWSKA became the new head of cabinet and Daniela VINCENTI, former editor-in-chief at EURACTIV was appointed as spokesperson and strategic communication adviser to the President. Of note: the new cabinet is comprised by eight women and just two men, including the President.
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA):
Patrick KY was re-elected as executive director for a second 5-year term.
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Cambre Associates: bolstered its senior advisers team with Mario MAURO, former Vice President of the European Parliament and former minister of defence in Italy.
Copa and Cogeca: Thierry COSTE was re-elected as chairman of the wine working party.
European Public Affairs Consultancies’ Association (EPACA): Isabelle DE VINCK was elected as the new president, succeeding Karl ISAKSSON.
Social Economy Europe (SEE): Juan Antonio PEDREÑO was re-elected as President. Alain COHEUR, Emmanuel VERNY and Luigi MARTIGNETTI were elected as Vice-Presidents.
5G Automotive Association (5GAA): Maxime FLAMENT was appointed as CTO.
News in a nutshell:
Brexit: Brexit talks resumed last week in Brussels. On Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 April, they focused on resolving remaining issues of the withdrawal agreement at a technical level, and on 18 April focused on Ireland and Norther Ireland and the future UK-EU relationship during the coordinators’ meeting.
In the UK, the House of Lords voted for the UK to stay in the customs union after Brexit, during a vote on an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill urging ministers to seek such a deal with Brussels. Meanwhile, the government suffered another blow, after the EU rejected the government's proposals for avoiding a hard border in Ireland as ‘unworkable’ after Brexit, reports the Telegraph.
The UK Government has also re-affirmed its intention to stay in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) post-Brexit.
Elsewhere, former UK Prime Minister David CAMERON, who called the referendum and resigned shortly after the result, said that he has no regrets over calling the Brexit vote.
European enlargement: The European Commission adopted its annual enlargement package, which recommends that the Council to open accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, following their progress in reforms.
Poland: Marek ZAGÓRSKI was appointed as the new minister for digital affairs., replacing Anna STREŻYŃSKA, who was dismissed during a cabinet reshuffle in January.
Slovakia: Interior minister, Tomáš DRUCKER resigned after three weeks in office. DRUCKER’s resignation came after massive protests demanding to fire police corps chief Tibor GAŠPAR in the wake of the murder of investigative journalist Ján KUCIAK and his fiancée Martina KUŠNÍROVA, but the minister said that he could not find a reason to do so. Prime Minister Peter PELLEGRINI took over the role on an acting basis.