Saturday

1st Oct 2016

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.

After some hefty discussion, which took the Italian Presidency by surprise, it was eventually agreed that two MEPs should represent the European Parliament during the bargaining on the draft Treaty.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Pat Cox, the European Parliament President, also caused some controversy: Should he be invited to the attend the meetings of EU leaders or not?

Eventually, despite French opposition to any breaches of procedure, it was agreed that Mr Cox would attend the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on 4 October and it would be decided there what to do next.

However, it was agreed that Mr Cox's attendance at EU leaders' level "should in no way set a precedent," a source told the EUobserver.

UK blocks

Two MEPs had been foreseen from the two biggest groups in the Parliament, the European Peoples' Party and the Socialists.

However, the third biggest group in the Parliament, the liberals had also been heavily lobbying for representation.

Their cause was taken up in high places last week when Mr Cox, himself a Liberal, called Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to ask for a third MEP.

While most countries were fairly flexible on the issue, including Italy as the current EU Presidency, the UK argued strongly against it.

Denis MacShane, the UK Europe Minister, used the do-not-open-Pandora's-box argument, however, word has it that the UK simply cannot stomach having Andrew Duff as a representative.

A UK liberal MEP, Mr Duff during the Convention's deliberations on the treaty blueprint presented an articulate and passionate defence of several issues that the UK government was against.

EPP in a quandary

The issue was also muddied by a second element - that of accession country representation. Several of them, particularly Poland, asked why the third representative should not be from one of the ten newcomers to the club.

However, all of this debate does not solve the EPP's problem - which MEP to send to the IGC. Last week, two of EPP heavyweights in the Convention, Elmar Brok and Inigo Mendez de Vigo clashed over who should be the representative.

An internal group vote last week saw a dead draw - now the group "has absolutely no idea what to do", said a group insider.

For their part, the Socialists have things tied up. German MEP Klaus Hänsch is definitely one of the representatives.

EU Council is 'black hole' in public trust

The EU Council, its most powerful institution, is a “black hole” unto the general public, hampering efforts to regain trust, a leading NGO has said.

EU commission presents 'realistic' lobbying rules

The EU executive called for more stringent regulation of interest representatives trying to influence EU decision making. Critics say the 'transparency revolution' is being blocked by the European Parliament and EU member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFAEFA Supports a YES Vote in the Hungarian Referendum
  2. ACCAFinTech Boom Needs Strong Guidance to Navigate Regulatory Hurdles
  3. Counter BalanceWhy the Investment Plan for Europe Does not Drive the Sustainable Energy Transition
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region Seeks to Make Its Voice Heard in the World
  5. Taipei EU OfficeCountries Voice Support for Taiwan's Participation in ICAO
  6. World VisionNew Tool Measuring Government Efforts to Protect Children Released
  7. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  8. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  9. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  10. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  11. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  12. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List