Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

Liberals and centre-right unite in EU parliament

  • EPP candidate Antonio Tajani is now backed by the liberals in hos bid for the EU parliament's presidency (Photo: EPP)

The European Parliament's centre-right and liberal groups reached a last-minute deal on Tuesday (17 January) to back centre-right EPP candidate Antonio Tajani as the assembly's next president.

Under the deal, which was reached minutes before the first round of the vote began, the liberal candidate Guy Verhofstadt withdrew his candidacy in exchange for top posts for his Alde group.

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According to sources, Alde will be given another vice-presidency post in addition to the two it already holds, as well as a more influence in the conference of committee chairs, the body that coordinates the work of the parliament's committees.

The EPP and Alde groups also formed a "pro-European coalition", to which they invited others to join.

"Europe is in crisis. Nationalists and populists of all boards try to destroy the union from within and from outside. A pro-European coalition is needed to withstand this attempt," the two groups said in a statement.

"The EPP and Alde - beyond their ideological differences - have decided to work closely together and to offer a common platform as a starting point for this pro-European cooperation."

They said they would propose an "inter-institutional reflection" on the future of the EU, including the possibility of launching a convention to prepare a new EU treaty, a long-time Verhofstadt demand.  

The EU parliament's president will be elected in a secret ballot, leaving MEPs leeway to vote against the group line. But in theory, Tajani could count on 217 votes from his centre-right EPP, as well as 68 liberal votes.

He needs 376 votes to secure the presidency, and could draw the rest from the conservative ECR group.

The EPP has been trying to rally support for its candidate to avoid another candidate winning with the votes of far-right and eurosceptic MEPs.

The article mistated the number of votes needed to secure the presidency. The absolute majority is 376, not 368.

New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle

The parliament's legal affairs committee narrowly gave the green light to France's Thierry Breton - with some MEPs critical of the candidate's links to IT firm Atos. Meanwhile, Brussels still waits for a UK commissioner.

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