Movers and Shakers | 27 March 2020



Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: Details on Parliament's extraordinary plenary session, Revised spring/summer plenary calendar, two new Director-Generals at the Commission, Poland's presidential elections to go ahead, the latest Commission appointments, Member State news, and more!


European Parliament

Plenary session
The Parliament convened for an extraordinary session on Thursday 26 March so that measures could be approved which would help people and businesses cope with the fallout of COVID-19. The session operated under exceptional circumstances and saw MEPs who were not able to travel to Brussels participating from home and voting remotely for the first time in the institution’s history.

Parliament approved three proposals:

  1. The Corona Response Investment Initiative - €37 billion from available EU funds will be channeled to citizens, regions and countries hit the hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic. The funds will be directed towards healthcare systems, SMEs, labour markets and other vulnerable parts of EU member states’ economies. (683 votes in favour, 1 against and 4 abstentions.)
  2. The extension of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies – The hardest hit member states can get access to financial support of up to €800 million in 2020. (671 votes in favour, 3 against and 14 abstentions.)
  3. Temporarily suspending EU rules on airport slots - This will stop air carriers from operating empty flights during the pandemic. (686 votes in favour, no votes against and 2 abstentions.)

Parliament has suspended its full four-day plenary sessions in Strasbourg until at least September. Instead mini-plenary sessions will be held in Brussels in the afternoon and morning of the following dates:

  • 13-14 May
  • 17-18 June
  • 8-9 July

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European Commission


Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI)
Wolfgang BURTSCHER has been appointed as the new Director-General. He takes over the reins from Deputy Director-General Angeles BENITEZ SALAS who was filling the role in an acting capacity. The decision takes effect on 1 April.

Budget (BUDG)
Marta LEGUTKO replaces Nicole SMITH as Head of Unit C1 (Treasury Management).

Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW)
Kerstin JORNA is the new Director-General. JORNA had previously been a deputy Director-General of the Commission’s economic and financial affairs department since 2016. JORNA takes over from Gwenole COZIGOU who was filling the role in an acting capacity. The decision takes effect on 1 April.

International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)
Jean-Louise VILLE replaces Pierre AMILHAT as Director of Directorate F (Asia, Central Asia, Middle East/Gulf and Pacific) in an acting capacity.
Marlene HOLZNER replaces Nicolette MERLO as Head of Unit A5 (Civil Society Organisations, Foundations). The former was filling the role in an acting capacity.
Tortsen EWERBECK replaces Jaime REIS CONDE as Head of Unit C7 (Coordination of the EIP Secretariat and Blending Facilities) in an acting capacity.

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

EU Institutions and Agencies

Council of the EU
Physical Council meetings will not take place for the next month. Ministerial videoconferences will continue however they will still be considered informal meetings and therefore no formal decisions will be made at them. In the meantime, formal decisions will be carried out after videoconferences via written procedure.

European External Action Service
According to sources, former Slovak Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miroslav LAJČÁK is soon to be appointed as the new EU envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the Western Balkans. LAJČÁK, who was previously EU’s High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, was proposed for the position by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep BORRELL. His nomination must still be approved by all member states.

European Public Prosecutor’s Office
The formation of the College of European Public Prosecutors of the European Public Prosecutor's Office has been delayed due to the ongoing disruptions caused by COVID-19. The selection panel has postponed the interview of the Maltese candidates scheduled for 13 March 2020 until a future date.

Public Affairs

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National News

Albania and North Macedonia
Accession negotiations to join the EU have been opened to the two countries. The two nations will be the first countries to begin negotiations since Serbia started the process in 2014.

Minister for Medical Care Bruno BRUINS has resigned. Martin VAN RIJN has been appointed as BRUINS replacement on a three-month temporary placement.

Presidential elections are still expected to take place on the 10 May despite the outbreak of COVID-19.

Minister for Health Victor COSTACHE has resigned. Nelu TĂTARU has replaced COSTACHE.

Igor MATOVIC and his 15-member coalition government were sworn in on 21 March.

For a full breakdown of the Slovakian coalition government, go to


Read the most recent articles written by Mia Bartoloni and Megan MacDougall - Movers and Shakers | 9 April 2020


EU Institutions
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