Movers and Shakers | 4 December 2017

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

By Ifigenia Balkoura

04 Dec 2017

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: the new composition of the political groups in the European Parliament, the EU Budget 2018, MEP news, the new Brexit Preparedness Group in the Secretariat General of the Commission and other appointments in the DGs, latest appointments in the trade associations, consultancies and NGOs, the reshuffle of the Irish cabinet, update on the incoming Czech government and more.


European Parliament:

Composition of the political groups:
Sorin MOISĂ (RO) defected from the S&D group and joined the EPP group. The move comes after MOISĂ quit his national Social Democratic Party, following a disagreement with the direction of the party and how it represents relations with Brussels. The approach of the party’s fight against corruption was also another reason that led him to resign from the party. He now sits as an independent MEP.

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Composition of the committees and delegations:

Thomas WAITZ (Greens/EFA, AT) was elected as Vice-Chair of the delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo (D-SEE).   

Nadja HIRSCH (ALDE, DE) joined the delegation to the EU-Turkey joint parliamentary committee (D-TR).
Wolf KLINZ (ALDE, DE) joined the delegation for relations with Switzerland and Norway and to the EU-Iceland joint parliamentary committee and the European Economic Area (EEA) joint parliamentary committee (D-EEA).
Caroline NAGTEGAAL (ALDE, NL) joined the delegation for relations with India (D-IN).
Jörg MEUTHEN (EFDD, DE) joined the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE), the committee on women's rights and gender equality (FEMM) and the committee of inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion (PANA).

Albert DESS (EPP, DE) joined the delegation for relations with Belarus (D-BY), replacing Michael GAHLER (EPP, DE).
Alojz PETERLE (EPP, SI) joined the delegation to the EU-Montenegro stabilisation and association parliamentary committee (D-ME).
Wolf KLINZ (ALDE, DE) joined the delegation for relations with Israel (D-IL), 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), the delegation to the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly (D-ACP) and the delegation to the parliamentary assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (D-MED).
Jörg MEUTHEN (EFDD, DE) joined the committee on economic and monetary affairs (ECON).

EU Budget 2018:
MEPs approved by 295 votes to 154, with 197 abstentions the 2018 budget within the framework of the Council’s formal approval of the conciliation agreement. Under the new budget, which was signed into law by Parliament’s president Antonio TAJANI (EPP, IT) an increase of €116.7m was secured for the youth unemployment initiative, reversing the Council’s €750 million cuts in the area of growth and jobs. Europol and Eurojust will receive an additional €3.7m and 10 new posts and €1.8m more and 5 more posts respectively to boost their security related tasks. The European Asylum Support Office will receive an increase of €5m. Young farmers will be supported with €34m to reduce youth unemployment in rural areas. It was also decided to cut pre-accession funds for Turkey by €105m, over the deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and human rights. Siegfried MUREȘAN (EPP, RO) is Parliament’s rapporteur.

MEP news:
Eva MAYDELL (EPP, BU) organised the high-level conference #Regulation4Innovation for a second consecutive year. Panelists argued that creating the right ecosystem, and especially developing skills and understanding in society about new technologies is essential. Research Commissioner Carlos MOEDAS, who participated in the panel, highlighted that artificial intelligence and robotics are part of our daily life, while MAYDELL called for thinking ahead when drafting legislation to drive change. The discussion looked at AI from the perspective of fundamental rights and the opportunities it gives to ease the lives of people with disabilities.
On 7 December Mrs MAYDELL is organising the third edition of Dream4BG, an annual conference in Brussels, in partnership with the Teach for Bulgaria Foundation which aims to introduce young Bulgarians to role models in their chosen field and encourage them to think about and discuss how best to contribute towards the development and success of their country. This year the topic is "Risk and Success".

Terry REITNE (Greens/EFA, DE) is organising a farewell reception on 5 December to celebrate the youth policy achievements of the Youth Intergroup, as her term as co-chair of the intergroup comes to an end after three years.


European Commission:

Commissioners’ Cabinets:
Cabinet of Jean Claude JUNCKER:
As Pauline ROUCH prepares to move to the Commission's Secretariat General, her replacement as Political Adviser on the Digital Single Market has been announced as Christiane CANENBLEY. Ms CANENBLEY is currently a Member of Phil HOGAN's cabinet, and upon joining Mr JUNCKER's team will have responsibility for Digital Single Market, Digital Economy and Society, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Agriculture and Rural Development; Post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework; and relations with the EU's Publications Office.

Cabinet of Mariya GABRIEL: Irina ALEXIEVA has been appointed as Cabinet Member, Communications Adviser within Ms GABRIEL's cabinet. Ms ALEXIEVA joins the Commission from the Council of Europe's World Forum for Democracy, and takes up responsibility for Strategic communication planning, relations with the Spokesperson Service, the media and with key stakeholders; Euronews and Euranet. Her non-portfolio responsibilities include migration, justice, home affairs and citizenship; citizens' rights and dialogue/ civil society relations, training skills and competences; and she has particular focus upon issues relating to Digital Economy and Society within the member states of Bulgaria, Austria, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Communications Directorate-General (DG COMM):

Directorate B – Representations: Panayotis CARVOUNIS departs from his role as the Commission's representative in Athens, and is replaced by Klementini DIAKOMANOLI on an acting basis.

Communications Networks, Content and Technology Directorate-General (DG CNECT):
Directorate A – Digital Industry: José Manuel BASTOS becomes Head of Unit A5 (Administration and Finance), taking over from his deputy Paolo GARELLO, who has held the role in an acting capacity. Mr. BASTOS joins DG CNECT from the Interpretation Directorate-General.

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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Directorate-General (DG GROW):
Directorate C – Industrial Transformation and Advanced Value Chains: Barbara BONVISSUTO, formerly Deputy Head of Unit C4, has been appointed as Head of Unit C3 (Advances Engineering and Manufacturing Systems), taking over from her Deputy, Birgit WEIDEL, who held the role in an acting capacity.

Secretariat General (SG):
A Brexit Preparedness Group has been established within the Secretariat General, and is currently led by Director Pascal LEARDINI of Directorate B on an acting basis.
Directorate F - Relations with Other Institutions: Pauline ROUCH, formerly of the Cabinet of Jean-Claude JUNCKER, becomes Head of Unit F3 (Coreper I Representative, National Parliaments, Consultative Committees, the European Ombudsman), taking over from Detlev CLEMENS, who held the role on an acting capacity and who now returns to his role as Deputy Head of F3.
Directorate R – Resources: Unit A4 (Business Continuity) has been relocated into Directorate R, and is still led by Florin URSEANU.



The following finance ministers are candidates to succeed Jeroen DIJSSELBLOEM (NL) as chair of the Eurogroup, when his mandate comes to an end in January 2018:

Peter KAZIMIR (SK) and

The election is held today, Monday 4 December.

Public affairs:

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CECIMO – European Association of the Machine Tool Industries: During its meeting held on 22 November 2017 in Brussels, the General Assembly elected Dr Roland FEICHTL as President of CECIMO. Dr FEICHTL is co-owner and chairman of the Supervisory Board of the company Feiba in Traun (Austria), specialised in Automation and Robot-Application. Since 2000 he has been a delegate of the National Association FMTI. For many years he was Chairman of Vienna’s Industry and is the current Chairman of the Professional Body for Austrian Machine-Tools. Dr FEICHTL joined CECIMO in 1999 as a Delegate, was Chairman of Technical Committee, CECIMO Vice-President and Board Member for the last 17 years.

European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP): Petr HORAK was elected as the new president of the association as on June 2018, taking over from Joan PEPPARD.

FoodServiceEurope: Michel CROISÉ, CEO of Sodexo BENELUX was elected as the new president, succeeding Zsolt PÁRKAI.

GPLUS: Gaelle LEMAIRE and Benoit ROUSSEL have been promoted to partners on Tuesday 29 November.

International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA): Achilleas GEORGIOU was appointed as head of communications. Prior to his appointment, he was working at Amec Foster Wheeler.

NEW! Noyb – European Center for Digital Rights: was launched on 28 November and is based in Austria. Noyb is a new NGO, which aims to create a stable European platform to enforce individuals’ rights in the data privacy field. Max SCHREMS chairs the board of directors, members of which are Petra LEUPOLD and Christof TSCHOHL. MEPs Jan-Phillipe ALBRECHT (Greens/EFA, DE) and Josef WEIDENHOLZER (S&D, AT) are expert members.

Science Europe: Marc SCHILZ was elected as president.


News in a nutshell:

Brexit: The Irish borders and the divorce bill dominated the Brexit talks last week. EU chief negotiator Michel BARNIER along with Jean-Claude JUNCKER and Donald TUSK reassured Ireland that the negotiations will not move into the next stage until there’s more progress on boards between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Previously, the Irish government had said that it would use its veto right on the trade talks if the UK will not guarantee the avoidance of hard borders.

Meanwhile, Foreign office officials told Dublin to ignore foreign secretary, Boris JOHSON on Brexit, according to reports.

Parliament’s Steering Group met with the chairs of EMPL and LIBE committees to discuss and evaluate the current state of the talks regarding the EU citizens’ rights. In a letter to Michel BARNIER, Parliament’s Brexit chief negotiator Guy VERHOFSTADT reiterated once again that considerable problems are persisting and questioned whether sufficient progress has been achieved. He wrote that the differentiated treatment between the core family members is not acceptable and called for an automatic, cost free process in the form of a simple declaration to obtain the “settled status”. He also insisted in the EU Court of Justice’s sole jurisdiction.

The discussion about publication of the Brexit impact studies was heated last week with Brexit Secretary David DAVIS been ordered to appear before the Brexit select committee. The analysis which was handed over to the committee left out important information though, as it was considered commercially sensitive.

In financial settlement news, the UK and the EU reached an agreement over the divorce bill of up to £50bn, it was emerged on Tuesday 28 November. However, none of the two sides has officially confirmed the figure. 

Speaking at a security conference in Berlin, Michel BARNIER said that “Brexit was a decision that came after a series of attacks on European soil, committed by young people who grew up in Europe, in our countries. Yet rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again.”

European Commission president Jean-Claude JUNCKER and BARNIER will meet with Theresa MAY on Monday 4 December. The crucial EU Summit will be held on 14-15 December.

Czech Republic: the government under prime minister Bohuslav SOBOTKA resigned on Wednesday 29 November, paving the way for Andej BABIŠ who won the elections in October to form a minority government. The new cabinet is expected to take office on 13 December, which will allow BABIS to attend his first EU Summit in December. BABIŠ confirmed that in his new cabinet, Alena SCHILLEROVÁ who is currently deputy finance minister will become finance minister.

France: Benjamin GRIVEAUX was appointed as Secretary of State and spokesperson of the French government. He was previously serving as Secretary of State for economy and finance and was replaced by Delphine GÉNY-STEPHANN.

Ireland: Taoiseach Leo VARADKAR nominated foreign minister Simon COVENEY as the new Tánaiste, following the dramatic resignation of Frances FITZGERALD, amid a whistleblower scandal, which brought the government on the verge of snap elections. Heather HUMPHREYS was nominated as minister for business, enterprise and innovation, a portfolio Mrs FITZGERALD was previously in charge of and of great importance for Brexit. Josepha MADIGAN was appointed as minister for culture heritage and Gaeltacht, replacing Hearther HUMPHREYS. 

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


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