Movers and Shakers | 8 October 2018

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

By Ifigenia Balkoura

08 Oct 2018

Today's Movers & Shakers are about: the new MEP, plenary session highlights and MEPs’ news, latest appointments in the European Commission and public affairs, latest developments on the European elections, Brexit and more. Scroll down to download our updated version of the practical guide  to the European elections.


European Parliament:

Anders SELLSTRÖM (EPP, SE) officially joined the Parliament as member, replacing Lars ADAKTUSSON, who was elected as MP in his native Sweden.


Composition of the political groups:
Cătălin Sorin IVAN (RO) resigned as member of the S&D group and is now sitting as independent. The move comes after the group turned down his request to exclude the Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSD).


Composition of the committees and delegations:
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE):
Judith SARGENTINI (Greens/EFA, NL) was elected as third Vice-Chair, replacing Jan ALBRECHT who left his seat in the Parliament. Maria Gabriela ZOANĂ (S&D, RO) joined as substitute.

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON): Stefan GEHROLD (EPP, DE) replaced Daniel CASPARY (EPP, DE) as member.

Committee on transport and tourism (TRAN): Anders SELLSTRÖM (EPP, SE) joined as substitute.

Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (D-LAT): Aymeric CHAUPRADE (EFDD, FR) joined as substitute.

Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (D-ASE): Stefan GEHROLD (EPP, DE) joined as member and Aymeric CHAUPRADE (EFDD, FR) as substitute.

Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (D-ACP): André ELISSEN (ENF, NL) joined as substitute.

Delegation for relations with the Pan-African Parliament (D-PAP): Stefan GEHROLD (EPP, DE) joined as substitute.

Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo (D-SEE): Anders SELLSTRÖM (EPP, SE) joined as substitute.


MEPs’ news:
Julie GIRLING and Richard ASHWORTH
(EPP, UK) were expelled from the Conservative party. The pair who last October had voted a resolution that the UK had not made sufficient progress in Brexit talks, left the ECR group and joined the EPP group in February. In a letter dated 25 September and signed by party chairman Brandon LEWIS it is stated that GIRLING’s recent decision to join the European Parliament centre-right EPP group is the reason for her exile. GIRLING hit back saying “I believe that this is an extreme and disproportionate measure which illustrates an increasing level of intolerance within the party, particularly on the issue of Brexit.”

Bill ETHERIDGE (EFDD, UK) left the United Kingdom Independence Party citing that the party “is seen by large swatches of the British public as a vehicle for hate towards Muslims and the gay community”, under the leadership of his MEP colleague Gerard BATTEN. Following the resignation of William (the Earl of) DARTMOUTH, ETHERIDGE is the second MEP to quit the party within a week for the same reason.

Referendum in Romania: 47 MEPs from across the Parliament’s parties wrote a letter to the Romanian Prime Minister and former MEP Viorica DĂNCILĂ, on the definition of family ahead of the country’s referendum on 6-7 October. In their letter, the MEPs expressed their dismay about the referendum’s definition of family between a man and a woman and expressed their concerns about human rights violations, while also called on the Romanian government to “ensure that all couples benefit from legal protection, and that all children -including children of same - sex parents and LGBTIQ children and youth - are granted the highest degree of protection.” However, the turnout did not meet the required 30 per cent threshold.
MEPS also discussed the rule of law in Romania during the plenary session and urged the Romanian government to respect the judicial independence and keep fighting the corruption. A resolution on the issue will be voted in next month’s plenary session.


Plenary highlights:
Future of Europe:
Estonian Prime Minister Jüri RATAS address the MEPs and discussed the future of Europe. In his speech, RATAS highlighted that the EU depends on a feeling of unity but he clarified that unity does not mean uniformity. He also stressed the need to fight populism ahead of the European elections.

Reducing car emissions: MEPs backed a proposal for a regulation aiming to reduce the CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and 35 per cent of new cars sold from 2030 should be electric or hybrid, a target that is higher than the European Commission proposal (30 per cent). Miriam DALLI (S&D, MT) is the Parliament’s rapporteur on the report. Read her recent interview with the Parliament Magazine about the ambitious CO2 reduction target.

Blockchain: On 3 October the plenary backed a resolution drafted by Eva KAILI (S&D, EL) calling for an EU policy to develop blockchain technology. Commenting on the adoption of the motion, Ms KAILI underlined that blockchain “opens a wide range of options for start-ups and SMEs by removing entry barriers as well as improves the public sector services for the citizens.” Commissioner for digital economy and society Mariya GABRIEL in turn announced that she is looking forward to cooperation in this area.

Single Digital Gateway: The official signing ceremony for the regulation establishing Single Digital Gateway took place on 2 October. The legislation was steered by Marlene MIZZI (S&D, MT) and was signed by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio TAJANI and Juliane BOGNER-STRAUSS, Federal Minister within the Federal Chancellery for Women, Families and Youth, on behalf of the Austrian Presidency of the Council. Mrs MIZZI, said on the occasion “today the European Union has achieved an important milestone, which makes it easier for citizens to interact with public authorities. This shall be made possible through the digitalisation of public services and the completion of the digital single market. We have deliver tangible benefits to our citizens. Which will save them time and money “. This EU single entry point will be integrated in the “Your Europe” portal and will be available in all languages. It will provide access and links to national and EU web sites and web pages, in a user-friendly way, to enable users to exercise their rights and comply with their obligations within the single market.

#MeToo European Parliament blog: A press conference will be held on 9 October to launch the #MeToo blog on sexual harassment and sexism in the European Parliament.  Read the press release and follow it on twitter

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Parliament Magazine's event:

Reorienting capital flows to low-carbon and sustainable activities.

EDF and the Parliament Magazine will be holding a parliamentary lunch discussion, focused on sustainable finance as a support to EU actions for climate and sustainable development. The event will kindly be hosted by Anne SANDER (EPP, FR) and Lieve WIERINCK (ALDE, BE) on Tuesday 16 October.

This exchange will focus on the crucial need of an EU framework to reorient capital flows towards a more sustainable economy and to take appropriate measures to tackle climate risk.

The objective is to explore the best ways for Europe to improve the contribution of finance to sustainable and long-term growth and to strengthen financial stability by incorporating environmental, social and governance factors into investment decision. Urgent action is needed to adapt the European framework to tackle sustainability and the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The speakers include:

  • Anne SANDER (EPP, FR)
  • Sven FENTNER, Head of Asset Management Unit in DG FISMA, European Commission
  • Claude NAHON, Executive Vice-President for Sustainable Development, EDF Group
  • Sylvain VASTON, Group Sustainable Business Officer, AXA Banque

The debate will be moderated by Veronika MILEWSKI, Senior Advisor gas, infrastructures and regulated markets at EDF European Affairs.

To register your interest, please contact: | +44 207 593 5560 | +44 207 593 5672


European elections:

Updated guide! Our team has updated the European election practical guide with the latest developments on the political parties’ Spitzenkandidat selection procedure and key dates. Download it here.

Former Prime Minister of Finland and current Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, Alex STUBB announced his bid to become the EPP’s candidate for the European Commission President. STUBB will confront his colleague and leader of the European Parliament’s EPP group, Manfred WEBER.

European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs Pierre MOSCOVICI announced that he will not run as a Socialist candidate in the European elections. 

In the light of the presentation of the Commission Work Programme to Parliament on 23 October, the Parliament’s conference of chairs and the EU Commissioners agreed on speeding up the work on pending proposals to deliver concrete results. The committees’ chairs and the College of Commissioners also agreed that progress should be noted particularly in the areas of single market, digital agenda, the circular economy, social agenda, migration and asylum, internal security, the fight against terrorism, and the completion of Economic and Monetary Union.  


European Commission:

Commissioners’ cabinets:
Cabinet of Karmenu VELLA:
Sébastien PAQUOT joined the cabinet as member, replacing Aurore MAILLET. His areas of responsibilities include circular economy, green growth, waste management, recycling policies, sustainable development and chemicals. Mr PAQUOT was previously HR Business Correspondent at DG ENV.

Directorates General:
Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI):

Directorate D – Sustainability and Income Support: Bruno CHAUVIN was appointed as head of unit, greening, cross-compliance and POSEI, replacing Bence MAJOR was acting in the role and is now deputy head of the unit.

Directorate E – Rural Development I and pre-accession assistance: Margaret BATESON-MISSEN was appointed as head of unit, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia; Broadband and inclusion, replacing Bruno CHAUVIN.

Energy (ENER):
Directorate D – Nuclear Energy, Safety and ITER: Zuzana PETROVICOVA replaced Ioanna METAXOPOULOU as head of unit, nuclear energy, nuclear waste and decommissioning.

Justice and Consumers (JUST):
Alexandra JOUR-SCHRÖDER was appointed as deputy Director-General, replacing Francisco FONSECA MORILLO.
Directorate C – Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law: Barbara NOLAN was appointed as head of unit, fundamental rights policy, replacing Georgia GEORGIADOU, who was acting in the role and is now deputy head of the unit.
Directorate E – Consumers: Marie-Paule BENASSI replaced Francisco FONSECA MORILLO, as acting director.

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

Maritime and Fisheries (MARE):
Directorate D- Fisheries Policy Mediterranean and Black Sea: Stylianos MITOLIDIS was appointed as head of unit, structural support Mediterranean, Black Sea and Landlocked member states, replacing Fabio GALETTI, who was acting in the role.

Mobility and Transport (MOVE):
Deputy Director-General Matthew BALDWIN was appointed as European Coordinator for Road Safety to drive forward the new road safety strategy as set out in the Commission's third Mobility Package.

Horticulture Civil Dialogue Group: Jose Antonio GARCIA FERNANDEZ, director of Ailimpo and Freshfel Board Member, was re-elected as Vice-President and acting chairman of the section dealing with fruit and vegetables.


Public affairs:

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

Hanover Communications: Matti RANTANEN joined the team as account director for digital policy. Prior to his appointment he was working at FIPRA, while he has served as advisor to Jyrki KATAINEN, when he was Prime Minister of Finland.

Hering Schuppener: Eszter KANTOR has joined as an associate director in the Brussels team. Prior to her appointment, Ms KANTOR has been with Airlines for Europe and the U.S. Mission to the EU. A Hungarian national, Eszter brings broad experience from finance, taxation, state aid, energy and aviation and will strengthen the international team working with global clients in partnership with Finsbury and the Glover Park Group.


News in a nutshell:

Brexit: On 3 October, the UK Prime Minister Theresa MAY gave a crunch speech at the annual conference of the Conservative Party. After entering the stage dancing to Abba’s Dancing Queen song, Mrs MAY spoke about the party’s strategy on several policy areas. On Brexit, she said that she will honour the result of the referendum and that she will seek a good trading and security relationship with the EU, but she added that “leaving without a deal - introducing tariffs and costly checks at the border - would be a bad outcome for the UK and the EU”. She reiterated that the free movement of persons will end once and for all and she announced the introduction of a new immigration system that will be based on skills. Full speech here.

Just minutes before the speech, another MP from her party, James DUDDRIDGE, submitted a letter of no confidence in her.

Democratic Unionists Party (DUP) leaders Arlene FOSTER and Nigel DODDS threatened to pull their support to Theresa MAY’s government if the deal that will be agreed with the EU includes customs rules for the Northern Ireland different than the rest of the UK.

In a joint press conference with the Irish Prime Minister Leo VARDAKAR, the President of the European Council Donald TUSK said that “From the very beginning, the EU offer has been not just a Canada deal, but a Canada+++ deal. Much further-reaching on trade, on internal security and on foreign policy cooperation. This is a true measure of respect. And this offer remains in place.” In his remarks he mentioned that “EU is united behind Ireland and the need to preserve the Northern Ireland peace process.” Full speech here.

Irish Prime Minister Leo VARDAKAR urged Theresa MAY to publish her plans on the border issue as soon as possible.

Earlier last week, the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremey HUNT sparked outrage after he compared the EU with the Soviet Union.  Addressing the Conservatives Party Conference, Mr HUNT said “what happened to the confidence and ideals of the European dream? The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving” and he continued “the lesson from history is clear: if you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won’t diminish it will grow and we won’t be the only prisoner that will want to escape." However, he backtracked on his comments later. 

EU officials were quick to hit back, with European Commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis ANDRIUKAITIS tweeting “Dear Jeremy HUNT, I was born in Soviet gulag and been imprisoned by KGB a few times in my life. Happy to brief you on the main differences between EU and Soviet Union. And also why we escaped the USSR Anytime. Whatever helps.”

Asked about Mr HUNT’s comments at a press conference, the European Commission chief spokesperson Margaritis SCHINAS said “I would say respectfully that we would all benefit, and in particular foreign affairs ministers, from opening a history book from time-to-time.”

The next European Council will be held on 17 October and it will be followed by an EU summit on 18 October, it was announced.

France: President Emmanuel MACRON accepted the resignation the Interior Minister Gerard COLLOMB who quit his role to run as candidate for mayor of Lyon. Prime Minister, Edouard PHILIPPE took over the role on an interim basis until a new minister is appointed.

Latvia: Pro-Russia Harmony party won most of the votes on the election held on 6 October. The rulling coalition lost its majority.

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