Sunday

19th Jan 2020

EP gets set for a tumultuous few weeks

  • The EP is gearing up for what could be a significant power coup (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The incoming European Parliament is to hit the ground running in the coming days as it forms, hears commissioners, hosts EU leaders, and takes a potentially ground-breaking vote on the new EU commission president.

The eighth EU assembly will be formally constituted on Tuesday (1 July) with 751 MEPs from 186 national parties.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

There will be seven political factions ranging from the far-left to to the eurosceptic right; far-right MEPs did not manage to form an alliance.

The new EP will remain dominated by men - 63 percent - while its youngest MEP is a 26-year old Dane and its oldest a 91-year old Greek.

Around half (50.6%) of deputies are unfamiliar with the EP's corridors, including all of Greece's MEPs. Germany, on the other hand, had the smallest changing of the guard - 70 percent of its deputies remain the same.

The EP's first task will be to elect its new president, which, abiding by traditions' passed, is set once more to be a backroom carve-up of the five-year term between the centre-right EPP and the Socialists.

The EPP is not running a candidate as it has promised to give its support to Socialist Martin Schulz, who has just held the office but who negotiated the chance for another 2.5 year stint as consolation for losing his bid to become commission president.

Voting is by secret ballot and the contender needs an absolute majority (376) of all MEPs to get the post. If three rounds of votes don't see someone elected, the two most popular candidates have a run-off vote.

Other challengers for the presidency - which has taken on increasing political weight as the EP's powers have expanded - are Sajjad Karim, a British Conservative, Pablo Iglesias, a Spanish member of the far-left faction, and Austrian Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek.

Also up for grabs next week are 14 vice-presidencies and places on the EP's powerful legislation-making committees. Committee chairs are set to be formally decided the following week, though there are already indications that the EPP will keep foreign affairs and the Socialists the economic affairs commitee.

Next week will also see the newly-formed EP roll straight back into the political arena, as it hosts the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, taking stock of the country's just-finished presidency, and Italian leader Matteo Renzi, taking over the EU presidency reins.

Renzi, riding the back of an impressive win in the EP elections which has made the Italian delegation the biggest in the S&D group, is expected to deliver a sharp anti-austerity message in the EU chamber.

Meanwhile, the EP is also gearing up for hearings on four new EU commissioners taking up their posts in July to replace colleagues moving to the parliament. A vote on new commissioners is set for 17 July.

But the high date in the EP's calendar will be 16 July. On this day it is supposed to elect the next EU commission president, with Jean-Claude Juncker set to be the nominee.

The former Luxembourg PM is due to be proposed by EU leaders at a summit starting later today (26 June). If he is then voted into office by the parliament, it will represent a major political and institutional coup for the assembly which has insisted, in an expansive interpretation of the EU treaty, that the lead candidate of the party winning the most votes in the EU election be automatically nominated for the post.

EUobserved

The European Parliament's institutional coup

Member state leaders have been backed into a corner. They have, as it were, been overtaken by the campaign bus; or outspoken at the TV debate. Yes, the European Parliament is in the process of staging a rather successful coup.

Schinas spars with MEPs over migration job title

A number of MEPs pressed Margaritis Schinas to drop the "Protecting the European Way of Life" title of his portfolio, which deals with migration. But Schinas refused, claiming it needs protecting from terrorists and populists. He failed to convince.

Poland's 'vague' nominee flops in EU hearing

Poland's nominee for agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, is likely to face a second hearing after MEPs from top political groups lambasted his "vague" performance on Tuesday.

Analysis

How MEPs will quiz the next commissioners

The EU parliament will organise public hearings to assess the future commissioners' suitability for their job and their knowledge about the portfolio they had assigned, before the new EU commission takes office on 1 November.

Interview

EP must be tougher on nominees, MEP says

European commissioners ought to be forced to sell shares in firms that they will one day regulate, a French MEP at the coalface of an EU vetting process has said.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us