15th Apr 2024

EU in the hands of the centre-right

The election of a conservative politician to be head of the European Parliament means that the three main institutions of the EU are now in the hands of the centre-right.

Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering joins conservative European Commission president Jose-Manuel Barroso and fellow German Christian Democrat Chancellor Angela Merkel, in charge of the member states' council until the end of June.

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  • Mr Poettering, along with two other centre-right politicians, will head the EU for the coming months (Photo: EPP-ED)

This centre-right dominance was called a "historic coincidence" by Mr Poettering, on Monday with the six-month period likely to be strengthened further by the generally good relations between the trio of politicians.

Although the commission has riled Germany recently with its energy liberalisation drive as well as its tougher-than-expected pollution targets for member states, Mr Barroso and Ms Merkel are said to get on well on a personal level while Mr Poettering is also close to the German government.

The big issues where technically all three institutions could have a say is the government push to revive talks on the EU constitution and the 50th Anniversary declaration of the bloc.

Mr Barroso has pledged his institution will support Mrs Merkel in her attempts to get the constitution back on political track while Mr Poettering will be watched to see how hard he pushes for the assembly to have a proper say in the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the centre-right European People's Party, the biggest in the European Union, is set to make good use of its good fortune.

"With the election of president Poettering, the EPP has the privilege of leading the

three main European institutions in the first half of 2007," said EPP president Wilfried Martens, adding that he was looking forward to working with all three politicians during their political summits.

Asked about the situation, one centre-right official said "we're happy of course."

Others will be keeping a watchful eye on the developments.

Socialist leader Martin Schulz told EUobserver that while he was "not concerned" by the set-up, he added that "We're here to ensure that this will not change into a dangerous situation."

German axis

Another point of interest in the coming months will be the so-called "German axis" with the president of the parliament, the head of the socialists and the EU presidency, all being German.

Some MEPs have already expressed concern about the issue with co-leader of the Greens/EFA group Monica Frassoni regularly denouncing the extent of German influence in key legislative issues - such as recently agreed chemical regulation legislation.

Meanwhile, liberal group leader, the UK's Graham Watson, said last week, "I'm regularly accused by Martin Schulz of being anti-German. I'm not...but it's a fair point that parliament could perhaps be a little too vulnerable to the agenda being dominated by a single state."

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