Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

EPP struggles for unity on presidential candidate

  • Two presidential-hopefuls: Antonio Tajani and Mairead McGuinness.

As MEPs flock to Strasbourg for the last plenary session of the year, the European Parliament's largest group, the centre-right EPP, is busy electing its candidate for the next president of the assembly.

Four members of the group have so far joined the race, although more could follow before the deadline expires on Monday evening (12 December). The group's candidate for the top job will be chosen in an internal election on Tuesday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The process has been anything but smooth, a senior EPP member told this website.

"I think we set the date too late, especially as there are many among us who would like to be the president. Discussions are very difficult. It's a huge challenge not to split the group," the lawmaker added.

"But at least we had a transparent process, where everyone could present themselves."

'Grand coalition'

The four to have thrown their hat in the ring so far are France's Alain Lamassoure, 72, who is serving his fifth mandate in the European Parliament; Irish former journalist and farmer, Mairead McGuinness, 57; Italian former EU commissioner Antonio Tajani, 63; and the former prime minister of Slovenia, Alojz Peterle, 68.

EPP group leader German Manfred Weber, 44, and Othmar Karas, 58, an Austrian, are also believed to harbour presidential ambitions.

Gunnar Hoekmark, from the Swedish delegation, said he was sure the candidate who won most votes on Tuesday would have "the full backing" of the group.

He was more worried about support from other groups. To win, a candidate needs the vote of 376 MEPs, decided by a run-off if no candidate gets enough support in three rounds of voting. The EPP group has 214 MEPs.

At the start of the current term, in 2014, the group struck a deal with the Socialist group, the second largest in the parliament with 189 members.

The two agreed to take the most important decisions together, and this way reduce the influence of the eurosceptic groups.

Part of the "grand coalition" agreement was to divide the presidency post among the two for half the term each.

The EPP was due to have its turn from next year. But Socialist group leader, Italian Gianni Pittella broke the agreement by declaring himself the "progressive" candidate, a step that angered EPP members and cast doubt on the future power balance in the European Parliament.

"The Socialists are acting against their own interests. They are undermining their own position in the European Parliament," Hoekmark said, adding that he hoped they would in the end stick to the promise they made.

It's also unsure if the EPP can rely on the other pro-European groups.

The liberal Alde and its 69 members have been pondering to put forward their leader Guy Verhofstadt as a compromise candidate. Verhofstadt will decide in the next few days whether to run or not, an Alde spokesman said on Friday.

The Greens, one of the smallest groups with 50 members, were unlikely to field their own candidate, a spokesman said on Friday.

Some of the group's MEPs have said they wouldn't mind to vote for a woman, hinting they could back Mairead McGuinness if the EPP were to chose her as a candidate.

But Greens wouldn't make formal commitments. "The best way to kill a candidacy is by naming it," Green co-chair Philippe Lamberts has said.

The next president of the European Parliament will be elected on 17 January in a series of secret ballots.

EUobserved

Schulz: the end of a one-man parliament

Martin Schulz has been widely credited for raising the profile of the European Parliament during his terms at its helm. But he didn't do much to raise transparency and political accountability of the EU institutions.

Investigation

EU Commission paying too much for iPhones and IT

EUobserver has obtained internal documents and emails from within the European Commission that outline questionable contracts with outside suppliers who appear to be overcharging for goods and services.

News in Brief

  1. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya
  2. MEP accuses Maltese government of 'hate campaign'
  3. EU values not negotiable, German FM tells Poland
  4. Audit warns 840 French bridges at risk of collapse
  5. Fashion king pours money into campaign for second Brexit vote
  6. Germany could aid Turkey, SPD leader hints
  7. UK government set to publish no-deal Brexit advice
  8. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  2. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  3. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  4. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  5. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  6. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  7. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  8. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us