Movers and Shakers | 29 May 2018

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


By Ifigenia Balkoura

29 May 2018

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: Mark ZUCKERBERG's hearing in the Parliament, the European Business Summit, latest appointments in the European Commission and public affairs, the latest issue of the Parliament Magazine, Brexit, political development in Italy and in Spain and more.


European Parliament:

Composition of the committees and delegations:

José Inácio FARIA (EPP, PT) joined the committee on women's rights and gender equality (FEMM).
Karol KARSKI (ECR, PL) joined the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE).

Political parties:
Sergio Gaetano COFFERATI (S&D, IT) joined the Italian left, after sitting as independent.

MEP news:
Roberts ZĪLE (ECR, LV) was proposed as the National Alliance “All for Latvia” prime minister candidate in the upcoming elections on 6 October. Mr ZĪLE, who has been an MEP since 2004, is a Vice-Chair of ECR group.

European elections 2019:
The European Parliament officially launched its campaign for the next European elections in a year’s time. President Antonio TAJANI addressed journalists during a press conference, saying that the election would be a “battle between not only the traditional parties” but also between “those who believe in the EU and those who seek to undermine it.” He added that he wants to put the European Parliament at the heart of the political debate.
Speaking at a meeting in Parliament on Wednesday, Sajjad KARIM (ECR, UK) warned about the risk of Russia meddling in next year’s elections, unless action is taken. He said, “one of the most spectacular successes of Russian influence was, of course, the Brexit campaign in 2016, and the far-reaching and destabilising consequences of this still affect all of us in our day-to-day work.”

Mark ZUCKERBERG hearing:
On Tuesday 22 May, Facebook CEO  Mark ZUCKERBERG visited the European Parliament and met with the political group leaders, along with Parliament’s rapporteur on GDPR, Jan ALBRECHT (Greens, DE), and LIBE committee Claude MORAES (S&D, UK).

The hearing, which was held behind closed doors, was live streamed. ZUCKERBERG apologised several times for the massive data leak and told MEPs there would be no repeat of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. He announced that a team of experts from Facebook would appear at a meeting of the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee to explain in detail how his company aims to “put things right.”
ALDE group leader, Guy VERHOFSTADT asked him if he will accept the need for regulation instead of saying he will fix everything and told him that he was in danger of becoming a “digital monster”. S&D group President Udo BULLMAN asked ZUCKERBERG how Facebook could “guarantee no manipulation in next year’s European election from foreign sides.” Greens co-chairs Philippe LAMBERTS (BE) and Ska KELLER (DE) expressed their disappointment about the hearing, as it failed to meet their expectations, after ZUCKERBERG made a lot of vague promises.
In a letter sent to the Parliament’s President answering to outstanding questions from the hearing earlier on Tuesday, ZUCKERBERG admitted his company is powerless to eradicate fake accounts but pledged to help tackle the spread of fake news. He also refused to be drawn on whether the tech giant will compensate users whose personal data was misused.

Plenary session:
MEPs are in Strasbourg from Monday 28 to Thursday 31 May.

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Get to know:

Marlene MIZZI (S&D, MT) in 5 questions.
She has been an MEP since 2013. She is a Vice-Chair of the committee on petitions (PETI) and this year she won an MEP award for her work on internal market and consumer protection policy.  She has worked as a rapporteur and shadow rapporteur on a number of digital single market dossiers covering issues including roaming charges, net neutrality, European standards, European electronic communication code and the single digital gateway, among other things. She is a Vice-President of the Intergroup on the welfare and conservation of animals and well-known for her work on animal welfare.


Animal health and welfare: Breeding for extremes in dogs and cats event:

The EU Dog and Cat Alliance, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) will be holding a parliamentary lunch discussion focusing on enhancing awareness of the animal health and welfare aspects involved with breeding for extremes of conformation in dogs and cats, to highlight the need for change in EU and national legislation on this issue, and to raise consumer awareness and promote responsible ownership.

The event is organised by the Parliament Magazine and kindly hosted by Petras AUŠTREVIČIUS (ALDE, LT) and Marlene MIZZI (S&D, MT).

To register your interest, please contact: | +44 207 593 5672.
More information here.


Interview with Miriam DALLI (S&D, MT):

For its most recent cover interview, the Parliament Magazine spoke to Maltese MEP Miriam DALLI, who discussed maintaining Europe’s technological leadership on electric vehicles, emissions reduction, her country’s recent tension with the Commission and more. Read her interview.


Refining industry and liquid fuels: new approaches for low carbon fuels that will ensure CO2 targets by 2050 event:

On Tuesday 26 June, Fuels Europe and the Parliament Magazine will be holding a Parliamentary Breakfast Briefing kindly hosted by Paul RÜBIG (EPP, AT).

The event will focus on the long-term vision for the transition of the refining industry and liquid fuels, and discuss new approaches for low carbon fuels that will contribute to reaching the 2050 CO2 targets. Europe’s ambitious yet recommended long-term global climate objectives are driving the decarbonisation of our society and economy. This transition to a low-carbon economy will, however, not be driven in the same way for all sectors of the European economy.

To register your interest, please contact: |+044 207 593 5672. 
More information here.


European Commission:

Commissioners’ cabinets:
Cabinet of Günther OETTINGER
: Johannes HAENICKE and Katarzyna SZCZEPANSKA joined the cabinet as members. Mr HAENICKE, who among other things is in charge of the relations with the European Parliament, the Directorate General for translation and the office for infrastructure and logistics replaced Bodo LEHMANN. In her new role, Ms SZCZEPANSKA is focusing on budget, the relations with the European Court of Auditors, neighborhood and regional policy.

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


European Business Summit (EBS):

This year’s European Business Summit took place on 23-24 May at Egmont Palace in Brussels. The annual Summit brought together over 2000 participants, including MEPs, European Commissioners, Ministers, CEOs and high-level leaders from across Europe to discuss how Europe can lead and be at the forefront of global economic, social and political change. During the two-day event participants discussed sustainable development, artificial intelligence, circular economy, digitalisation, the empowerment of youth entrepreneurs, e-commerce, taxation, clean transport among others.

Dods and the The Parliament Magazine, participated in the Summit as a media partner. Our colleagues from the Dods EU Monitoring team prepared briefings on the following sessions:

Circular economy – How to trigger and maintain behavioural change in the plastics value chain.

Fake news and why it’s threatening your business.

EU-Japan EPA – a view from industries and future cooperation.

Clean Transport in Europe.

Ahead of the summit, the Parliament Magazine ran a series of articles on the state of business and entrepreneurship in Europe. Catch up here.


Committee of the Regions (CoR):

Guillaume CROS (PES, FR) was appointed as rapporteur of the Common Agriculture Policy reform and rural development policy post-2020.

European Ombudsman:

Cesira D’ANIELLO, currently director of human resources and administration in the Council of the EU, was appointed as new Secretary-General at the European Ombudsman's office as of September. She will replace Beate GMINDER who left the post in February to become director for migration and security funds in DG HOME.


European Global Navigation Satellites Systems Agency (GSA):

Bruno VERMEIRE, currently head of information security at the national security authority Belgium, was appointed as chair of the security accreditation board (SAB). He takes over from Jeremy BLYTH.


Public Affairs:

Got any new appointment you would like us to include in our next newsletter? Contact Ifigenia Balkoura!

BUSINESSEUROPE: Pierre GATTAZ, current President of the French business federation MEDEF and CEO of Radiall will succeed Emma MARCEGAGLIA as President on 5 July for a two-year term, renewable once.

European Heat Pump Association (EHPA): a new board was appointed by ehpa members to represent the industry from 2018 to 2020 regarding the decarbonasation of heating and cooling. The elected candidates are: Georg BLÜMEL, Wim BOYDENS, Johannes BRUGMANN, Eric DELFORGE, Thomas FLECKL, Martin FORSEN, Jussi HIRVONEN, Dina KOEPKE and Julia PANZER.

Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT): Margaret BATH will step down from her role as CEO. Filip FONTAINE will replace her on an interim basis as on 1 June.

International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA): Iain GRAINGER is the new President and Chairman of the Board.


News in a nutshell:

Brexit: The Exiting the European Union committee published its report on the progress of Brexit negotiations, which includes the outstanding issues for the next five months. On citizens’ rights, the reports says there are a number of uncertainties, such as the reciprocal voting rights and the application of sickness insurance, while on the Northern Ireland border it highlights the lack of clear proposals for maintaining a frictionless border. Regarding the customs arrangements, the report mentions that the progress in the negotiations talks is ‘highly unsatisfactory’ since the referendum, as the UK has yet to agree on the type of trade is looking to pursue with the EU, warning about the ‘likelihood’ of staying in the customs union after the transition period.  

According to an EU official, who spoke to journalists, the UK is living in a ‘fantasy’, believing that it can keep all benefits it currently enjoys post-Brexit. A British official hit back, saying that the comments are ‘laughable’ and that the EU is trying to insult the UK.

Earlier this week, the Governor of the Bank of England Mark CARNEY told MPs at the Treasury Committee that households are £900 worse off than they would have been without the Brexit vote, as the UK economy was up to two per cent small than predictions two years ago. However, he said that the Bank of England is ready to step in to prevent a ‘disorderly Brexit’.

The European Commission published its recommendation for a Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations with a view to apportioning the Union's WTO concessions on Tariff Rate Quotas annexed to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 in view of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.

On Thursday 24 May, House of Commons leader Andrea LEADSOM confirmed that the EU Withdrawal bill will not return to the Commons in the week beginning 4 June, but within weeks, certainly soon after the short Whitsun recess.

The Department for Exiting the EU published a technical note on consultation and cooperation on external security, law enforcement and criminal justice and the UK’s position on its participation in the Galileo programme. Regarding the latter, if the UK is excluded from the satellite navigation system  post Brexit, it wants the EU to replay it €1bn.
In other news, the UK Government nominated 13 new peers (nine Conservatives, three Labour and one DUP).

Italy: After he rejected the nomination of Paolo SAVONA as economy minister, President Sergio MATTARELLA appointed former International Monetary Fund official, Carlo COTTARELLI as prime minister to lead the country to early elections. SAVONA who was proposed by the League and the 5-

Spain: Following the Gürtel corruption ruling that saw Popular Party being fined, the leader of the Socialist Party, Pedro SÁNCHEZ filed a vote of confidence against Prime Minister Mariano RAJOY and said that he could form a transitional government that would call general elections, if the motion passes. The vote will be held on Thursday 31 May and Friday 1 June.


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