Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: European elections are underway as the UK and Netherlands kick-off proceedings, Dutch migration minister steps down, the Austrian government collapse, UK Prime Minister announces resignation, the latest appointments at the European Court of Auditors, Committee of the Regions, public affairs and more!
Elections are officially underway. The UK and Netherlands kicked off proceedings as voters headed to the polls on Thursday – the first of four days of voting.
In Netherlands, campaigning continued into the late hours of Wednesday night with Prime Minister Mark RUTTE debating live with Euroskeptic Thierry BAUDET on nation television. Exit polls currently suggest the Labour Party (S&D) coming out on top with five seats, while RUTTE’s Freedom and Democracy (ALDE) is expected to take four seats and BAUDET’s Forum for Democracy, three.
In the UK, the issue of Brexit has dominated the vote, which is being seen as a referendum not only on government policy but also on the country’s traditional ruling parties. While the UK will vote in 73 parliamentarians, the uncertain Brexit timetable means that nobody know how long, exactly, these MEPs will hold their positions.
Ireland continues today along with the Czech Republic, with Latvia, Slovakia and Malta following on Saturday. The majority of Member States will go to the ballot boxes on Sunday with provisional final results being announced from 23.00 CET onwards Sunday night.
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Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI)
Luis CARAZO JIMINEZ is the new Head of Unit A3 (The Americas), replacing current Acting Head of Unit Giulio MENATO.
CARAZO JIMENEZ therefore leaves the post of Head of Unit G3 (Animal Products), with Brigitte MISONNE becoming the Acting Head of Unit.
Luca ASCOLI has been appointed as Director of Directorate D (Government Finance Statistics (GFS)), having previously served as Acting Director. He will leave his former position as Head of Unit D1 (Excessive Deficit Procedure, methodology and GFS), although he carries on as Acting Head of Unit until he is replaced.
European External Action Service
Delegations and Representations
Vincent GUÉREND finished his term as EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam; with the new Ambassador being set to arrive on 1 September. Charles-Michel GEURTS will serve as Chargé d'Affaires in the meantime.
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Committee of the Regions
Mireia BORRELL PORTA (EA, ES) joins as an alternate member, replacing Natàlia MAS GUIX.
Marco MARSILIO (ECR, IT) joins as a member, replacing Giovanni LOLLI.
Märta STENEVI (NI, SE) joins as a member, replacing Agneta GRANSTRÖM.
European Court of Auditors
Ivana MALETIĆ (HR) has been appointed as a member, replacing Neven MATES from 15 July.
Viorel ŞTEFAN (RO) has been appointed as a member, replacing George PUFAN from 1 July.
Magnus HALL (Vattenfall) has been appointed as the new president for the next two years. HALL replaces outgoing president, Francesco STARACE. Patrick O’DOHERTY (ESB Ireland) and Leonhard BIRNBAUM (E.ON Germany) have been elected as vice-presidents.
European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)
Luca VISENTINI has been re-elected as General Secretary while Laurent BERGER has been elected as President.
Frédéric DE COURTOIS, general manager of the Generali Group, has been named vice-president for a three-year term. He succeeds Torbjörn MAGNUSSON, group CEO and president of the Sampo Insurance Group.
Pascale MOEHRLE has been appointed executive director and vice-president. MOEHRLE has been serving as interim executive director since January this year, after the departure of Lasse GUSTAVSSON.
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President Alexander VAN DER BELLEN has called for a snap general election in September following the resignation of vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian STRACHE of the Freedom Party (ENF). The resignation, which has brought down the ruling coalition led by Chancellor Sebastian KURZ of the People’s Party (EPP), was precipitated by a corruption scandal involving STRACHE. Video footage had recently emerged of STRACHE discussing fixing state contracts in return for financial and political favours with an alleged Russian investor.
All ministers of the Freedom party are now resigning after KURZ also asked for interior minister, Herbert KICKL to be dismissed in the interest of “total transparency”. KURZ has appointed four technocrats to ministerial posts in the meantime. Former High Court Judge Eckart RATZ is the new interior minister, Lieutenant General Johann LUIF is taking over as defence minister, Valerie HACKL will now run the transport department and Walter PÖLTNER is the new minister of social affairs.
The opposition parties plan to move a Vote of No Confidence against KURZ on Monday. If KURZ loses this vote he would become the first Austrian chancellor to ever be removed from office by the Parliament, and president VAN DER BELLEN would name an interim Chancellor to fill the position before early elections.
The scandal is a blow to Europe’s populist movement just one week ahead of European Parliament elections.
Prime Minister Theresa MAY announced her intention to resign as Conservative Party leader on 7 June to allow a new Prime Minister to take office. The process to select a new leader will commence the following week, with MAY’s replacement likely to become Prime Minister over the summer.
Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon COVENEY has ruled out any renegotiation of the current Brexit withdrawal deal when Theresa MAY is replaced as Prime Minister – “The EU has said very clearly that the Withdrawal Agreement has been negotiated over two-and-a-half years, it was agreed with the British government and the British cabinet and it's not up for renegotiation, even if there is a new British prime minister”.
Lead of the House of Commons Andrea LEADSOM resigned late on Wednesday, saying she no longer believed the government’s approach to leaving the European Union would honour the result of the 2016 referendum. Her resignation is now the 36th by a minister under Theresa May – 21 of them over Brexit. It is heavily rumored that LEADSOM will be a candidate in the upcoming Conservative leadership contest.
Current Commissioner Andrus ANSIP (Reform/ALDE) announced his intention to take a seat in the European Parliament if elected, saying that he did not feel that it was likely that he would be re-nominated to the next Commission by the current government. The Estonian Electoral Committee announced on Tuesday that the Committee will formally register both successfully elected MEPs and alternates on 15 June at the latest, with candidates getting ten days following that to decide whether they plan to carry on in their current jobs or accept the MEP mandate. It is believed that ANSIP’s likely replacement will be Kadri SIMSON (Centre/ALDE), a former National MP.
All three Presidential candidates were confirmed to meet the legislative and constitutional requirements of the position by Janina-Kursite PAKULE (National Alliance), chair of Parliament’s Ethics Committee. Current European Court of Justice Justice Egils LEVITS, Chief Ombudsman Juris JANSONS and current MP Didzis ŠMITS (KPV-LV) will be candidates in the parliamentary vote, to be held on 29 May. Incumbent President Raimonds VĒJONIS will not be seeking re-election.
Migration minister, Mark HARBERS, resigned on Tuesday following an outcry over a report which appeared to downplay crime statistics in relation to asylum-seekers in the country. This event comes as a blow to the already embattled governing coalition of prime minister Mark RUTTE as he attempts to counter a surge in anti-immigration populists who are currently leading the polls for the upcoming European elections.