1st Jun 2023


New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK

  • MEPs will pay tribute to the late David Sassoli on Monday, before almost certainly picking Malta's Roberta Metsola (pictured) as his successor as EU Parliament president (Photo: European Parliament)
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The European Parliament will kick off its first plenary of the year in Strasbourg on a sombre note on Monday (17 January), holding a tribute to the late parliament president David Sassoli, who died last week.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, European Council president Charles Michel, French president Emmanuel Macron, whose country holds the EU council's rotating presidency, and former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta will make speeches in memory of Sassoli, who was Italian and from the Socialists & Democrats group.

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Italy's current prime minister Mario Draghi, Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel and Greek premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis will also attend the ceremony which will start at 6pm.

On Tuesday, attention will turn to who will success Sassoli.

The lead candidate is the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola - who has been outspoke against corruption and rule of law issues among others.

However, some MEPs are concerned over her anti-abortion voting record, which some interpret as a regression of women's rights.

Metsola has told hesitant MEPs that, if she is elected, she will represent the "majority voice" on abortion of the parliament.

Three other candidates from smaller groups have also put their name in the race.

Swedish MEP Alice Bah Kuhnke, representing the Greens, Polish MEP Kosma Złotowski from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), and Spanish MEP Sira Rego, from the far-left are all eying the top spot.

The liberal Renew Europe, and the Socialist & Democrats (S&D) are in negotiations with the EPP to back Metsola.

The S&D have suggested they want to clinch the parliament's powerful top administrative position, the secretary-general, which has been held by the German centre-right Klaus Welle for over a decade.

The vote will take place online, which a first for choosing the president of the house. Whoever gets an absolute majority will win. If no winner is chosen by the third round, the two top candidates will go head-to-head.

Down to business

On Wednesday (19 January), MEPs will debate the new rules for online services, the Digital Services Act (DSA) in the plenary, and the vote will take place on Thursday (20 January).

On Wednesday, Macron will present the priorities of the French presidency and debate them with MEPs.

The parliament on the same day will also confirm a new law giving new powers to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to better prepare Europe for future health crises.

The plenary will debate and vote on Thursday (20 January) on a report on the rules for the protection of animals during transportation.

In the council, on Monday, eurozone finance ministers will discuss the euro area fiscal framework and the reform of the economic governance.

The next day EU finance ministers will talks about the proposed global minimum tax for multinational companies, and progress of the Covid-19 recovery fund's rollout.

On Thursday, an informal meeting of environment ministers will be held on the green deal, with commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, energy commissioner Kadri Simson and environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.

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This election is marked by the untimely passing of David Sassoli, who steered the parliament through an extremely complex and challenging period. He showed that it was possible to reach agreements through much-needed dialogue, and away from dogmas.

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The parliament's constitutional affairs committee is set to vote on a draft proposal on the number of seats in the European Parliament, and their distribution among EU countries, ahead of the 2024 elections.

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