9th Mar 2021

MEPs fight for three representatives in IGC talks

The fight is on for the European Parliament to get three representatives in the inter-governmental conference (IGC) to fine-tune the draft EU Constitution.

At the moment various names, from the biggest political groups, are in the running - among them Spanish MEP Inigo Méndez de Vigo, German MEP Elmar Brok (EPP) and German MEP Klaus Hänsch (PES).

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Their nomination will be discussed during a meeting of the heads of the political groups on Thursday, a source indicated.

Both Mr De Vigo and Mr Hänsch sat on the influential presidium of the Convention that drew up the draft Constitution - President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's inner team.

But the liberals, the third biggest group in the Parliament, are not sitting back on their laurels.

"There are around 200 MEPs who do not come from the two biggest groups", said the Liberals' spokesperson, Philip Todd.

"We tabled an amendment to the effect that there should be at least three [representatives]", he added.

Convoluted politics

This amendment was, in fact, turned down on Wednesday in plenary but for convoluted political reasons - the liberals, say several sources, are still in with a chance.

The Italian Presidency is sympathetic to their cause as are several MEPs. Mr Hänsch co-signed the amendment asking for three MEPs in the IGC.

However, the liberals had asked for 'at least' three representatives so as not to upset the smaller groups. The large political groups, while sympathetic to the idea of three representatives, do not want any more than three, so the party line was to vote against it.

Belgians and Dutch to ask for liberal MEP

Monday (29 September) will be the next crucial day in this debate. During a General Affairs Council in Brussels, the Dutch and the Belgian foreign ministers - both countries have liberals in the government - are set to raise this with the Italian Presidency.

Pat Cox, the European Parliament President and himself a liberal, is also set to raise the matter.

The only country digging its heels in over the issue, say sources, is the UK. The head of the liberals in the Convention was Andrew Duff - a committed federalist, he often spoke out against the UK government's representative during the Convention deliberations.

Italian Presidency promises fair representation

Meanwhile, the Italian Presidency has promised MEPs that they will be fully involved in the inter-governmental conference.

Addressing the plenary in Strasbourg, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Roberto Antonione said, "the Presidency considers that closer involvement of the European Parliament in the IGC's discussions is fundamental in order to defend the constitutional wisdom developed by the Convention".

Euro-Parliamentarians "should be fully involved in IGC meetings at Foreign Minister level".

However, member states have still to agree how Parliament should be represented during meetings of heads and state and government.

EU leaders are set to reach a decision on this at the opening of the inter-governmental debate in Rome next week (4 October).

EPP heavyweights clash over Constitution representation

A vote taken within the EPP group yesterday between Spanish MEP Inigo Mendez de Vigo and his German colleague Elmar Brok, on who should represent the group in the forthcoming Constitution talks, saw a dead heat between the two. Both men should go, says the proposed awkward solution.

Member states argue over MEPs in Constitution talks

In an ominous portent of the approaching behind-the-scenes negotiations on the draft EU constitution, member states on Monday clashed over the issue of how many MEPs should represent the European Parliament.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

Future of Europe: Nearly half of citizens want reforms

European Parliament president David Sassoli called for the Conference on the Future of Europe "to start as soon as possible". Meanwhile, nearly half of EU citizens would like to see reforms to the bloc.

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Transparency International carried out three separate studies on integrity, of the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council (representing member states). The European Parliament refused to cooperate.

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