Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan resigns, Bulgarian minister for justice resigns, the latest Commission, public affairs appointments, and more!
It’s back to school for the EU institutions, including the Parliament. Our colleagues at Dods EU Monitoring have selected their pick of the top priorities by policy area for the coming months. Check out the report by clicking here.
Athanasios Konstantinou (NA, EL) has left his national party ‘Golden Dawn’. Konstantinou had voted against the party’s line concerning Turkey’s financing by the EU. He will now sit as a Greek independent in Parliament.
Situation in Belarus
An extraordinary meeting was held on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Belarus. Chair of the Committee David McAllister (EPP, DE) has said that the European Parliament overwhelmingly supports the right of the people of Belarus to participate in free and fair elections and to exercise their rights and freedoms.
After facing significant backlash for a trip he made to Ireland last week, Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan (IE), tendered his resignation to president Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday evening.
Hogan had attended a golfing event together with other senior Irish politicians and more than 80 guests in total, a number well in breach of the country’s public health guidelines, which had been strengthened the previous day to limit indoor gatherings to just six people. In the wake of the event, Irish minister for health Dara Calleary resigned and Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin asked for a ‘fulsome’ apology from Hogan, though he recognised that the Commissioner was not under his jurisdiction. Commissioners are ultimately answerable to the Commission president. As of Tuesday evening, a Commission spokesperson for von der Leyen said the president was examining a report Hogan had published about his movements in Ireland.
In response to his letter of resignation, von der Leyen tweeted “Tonight Commissioner @PhilHoganEU submitted his resignation. I respect his decision, I am grateful for his work as a Trade Commissioner and a member of my team.”
A reshuffle of the von der Leyen cabinet is now likely. As per article 246 of the Treaty, the Irish government must now put forward suitable candidates for an Irish Commissioner. Von der Leyen has asked that a male and a female candidate be presented. Three names have been suggested as possible contenders for the Irish spot - David O’Sullivan, the EU’s former ambassador to Washington, Mairead McGuinness, vice president of the European People’s Party in the Parliament, and Simon Coveney, Ireland’s current minister for foreign affairs and defense.
Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis will assume, ad interim, responsibilities for trade matters.
Read more here.
Health and Food Safety (SANTE)
Ruben Tascon becomes Director of Directorate F (Health and food audits and analysis) in an acting capacity filling a vacant tenure.
Casper Klynge has provisionally become a board member, replacing John Frank. Klynge is currently Microsoft’s vice-president for European government affairs with responsibility for all of Microsoft’s government affairs and public policy work across the continent.
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Minister for justice Danail Kirilov filed his resignation on Wednesday amid criticism of his efforts to stem corruption. Borissov will decide whether to accept Kirilov’s resignation following talks with coalition partners, after which parliament will have to vote on his resignation. Kirilov has been minister for justice since 2019 after his predecessor Tsetska Tsacheva resigned amid a real estate scandal which saw the former minister purchase luxury properties at below-market prices. Kirilov is the fifth government minister to resign since protests swept the country in July.
The government will face a vote of no-confidence on 31 August, tabled by the Social Democratic Party (PES). The Socialists do not have enough votes to pass the motion on its own and will require the support of smaller opposition parties.
Deputy prime minister and minister for the environment Isabella Lövin announced her resignation on Wednesday and stepped down from her role as co-leader of the Green Party (EGP). Lövin has said that her decision was motivated by personal reasons – namely wanting to spend more time with her family.
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