Thursday

6th May 2021

Watson set to pull out of EP presidency race

  • The parliament will vote on its next president on 14 July (Photo: EUobserver)

Graham Watson, the liberal challenger for post of European Parliament president, is set to pull out of the race after the job was split between the two biggest groups in the assembly.

Rumours flew around the parliament on Tuesday evening (7 July) that he had already formally withdrawn his candidacy after the head of the centre-right EPP, Joseph Daul, told a meeting of his group that Mr Watson was no longer in the running.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

However, his cabinet and spokespeople immediately denied the rumour, and insisted Mr Watson still intends to take part in an organised debate later on Wednesday between himself and the other declared candidate for the job, the centre-right Pole Jerzy Buzek.

Mr Watson's attempt at getting the presidency - largely a ceremonial role - was scuppered by the traditional carve-up of power between the EPP and the Socialists, confirmed on Tuesday.

Under this deal, Mr Buzek will get the post for the first two and half years followed by Martin Schulz, head of the socialists, for the second half.

Mr Watson, a UK liberal MEP who was head of his group until last week, first started campaigning for the post early this year.

He began canvassing on a transparency ticket saying the consensus of power between the two biggest groups in the parliament was too secretive, although he later indicated that he would not be adverse to a similar set-up among right-wing groups in return for the presidency post.

Under a deal agreed between the EPP, Socialists and Liberals, Mr Watson may now get to chair a temporary committee on the financial crisis as a consolation prize.

Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt, elected last week, has repeatedly criticised lack of initiative by the European Commission and member states on dealing with the financial crisis.

For his part, Mr Buzek said he would look to form a broad consensus in the European Parliament.

He also said strengthening regional co-operation was important, as well as energy independence and tackling climate change. In addition, he said would be "perfectly willing" to travel to Ireland to support pro-treaty campaigners ahead of the country's October referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

The European parliament will vote on its next president on 14 July, replacing its current chief, German Christian Democrat Hans-Gert Poettering.

Opinion

Wikileaks proves the case for MEP's immunity

Wikileaks cables have shed new light on the case of Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament Viktor Uspaskich, who was stripped of his legal immunity by the European Parliament last year, writes Graham Watson.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

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.

EU parliament snubs anti-corruption researchers

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.

Cyprus: a heavy caseload for new EU prosecutors office

The new European Public Prosecutor's office will become operational in March. It is tasked to carry out criminal fraud investigations of the EU budget. But of the 140 required European delegated prosecutors, only nine have so far set up office.

News in Brief

  1. Israel study: Two Pfizer doses give over 95% protection
  2. Barnier calls Johnson a 'bulldozer' in Brexit memoirs
  3. Hungary and Poland prevent 'gender' in summit declaration
  4. Draghi: Italy to welcome foreign tourists from mid-May
  5. Germany announces new, stricter, emission cuts
  6. Channel Islands 'blockade' threat in UK and France row
  7. French reporter kidnapped by rebels in Mali
  8. Trump's Facebook ban upheld but with caveats

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Greek prisons accused of abusing detainees
  2. EU and US join up against China on Taiwan
  3. Conservatives' Covid-strategy wins in lockdown-fatigue Madrid
  4. Commission drafts new rules targeting foreign state aid
  5. Why Europe should stop worrying about 'sportswashing'
  6. Conference on Future of Europe must listen to local voices
  7. What happens now to the EU's post-Covid recovery fund?
  8. EU turns from China to India on free trade

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us