Monday

20th Feb 2017

New committee chairs set to create bruising encounters

  • Over half of the committee chairpersons were decided on Thursday, with the rest to follow on Monday (Photo: EUobserver)

The election of two sectoral champions to the European parliament's industry and environment committees on Thursday (16 July) has set the stage for five years or bruising encounters between the two bodies.

Controversial German MEP Herbert Reul from the centre-right European Peoples Party was elected chairman of the powerful industry, research and energy committee while former environmentalist Jo Leinen, an MEP from the Socialists and Democrats group, takes over the helm of the legislature's environment committee.

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.

Before the vote, a number of industry committee members expressed concern that the proposed chairman held overly close links with the business world, with the Liberal delegation saying "transparency must be the watchword."

In previous parliament negotiations on the car emissions law and on opening up the energy market in the EU, Mr Reul was accused of handing in amendments that came directly from industry.

Industry committee member and vice-president of the Greens group Claude Turmes said his party was concerned about the new chairman's close links with the industry sector. "It worries us a lot and Reul is also a climate sceptic," he said.

"If Mr Reul does not stick to the rules of the game and respect the votes of the members then probably we will have an institutional problem," he added.

However Mr Reul defended his record. "I am not close to businesses but I am certainly close to the business philosophy," he told EUobserver, adding that European businesses are currently facing the worst recession in the last half century.

"People all around Europe are losing jobs as a result of the recession, so it is not correct to say that the environment dossier is the most important," he indicated.

On the issue of whether human activity was causing climate change he said: "It's a part but it's not all."

Environment committee

Such tempered views on the human role in causing climate change are unlikely to be shared by the environment committee's new chairman - MEP Jo Leinen from the Socialists and Democrats group.

Mr Leinen said he was "returning to his roots" by taking on the position, highlighting his environmentalist background including a stint as environment minister for his region in Germany and various citizens initiatives before that in the 1970s.

"There is a tension between the environment and industry committees but the chairperson is not alone, it's up to the members of the committee [to make decisions], although he does have a certain influence," he told this website.

He said that the new parliamentary mechanism that enables two committees to combine and make joint decisions on contentious legislation could be used to help solve disputes between the two committees.

Economic committee gets non-euro chairwoman

The economic and monetary affairs committee, which has regular contacts with ECB chairman Jean-Claude Trichet, elected UK MEP Sharon Bowles as its chairperson.

Before her election however, the MEP moved to allay committee member concerns that her origins from a non-euro country could jeopardise the committee's work by saying she was a strong supporter of the currency.

"Ultimately the UK will not be able to stay out of the euro if you look into the long-term when it is a major reserve currency," she later told journalists.

She also said she would not be lobbying for the banking interests of the city of London, Europe's largest financial centre, indicating she intended to clearly distinguish between her personal views as an MEP and her duty to be an independent chairwoman.

"If I may be so bold, I think I will probably demark this [joint role] more clearly than has previously been the case with some continental chairs."

Surprise on foreign affairs

In a surprise turn of events, Italian MEP Gabriele Albertini from the centre-right EPP group was elected chairman of the foreign affairs committee and not Mario Mauro.

Mr Mauro had been tipped for the post having backed out of the race to win the EPP nomination for president of the parliament.

In accepting the post, Mr Albertini said: "For understandable reasons, Mario Mauro thought he could not be head of the Italian delegation and chair of the committee."

The former mayor of Milan also admitted however that Mr Mauro had more experience in the field of foreign affairs than he did.

Other chairs

In total twelve committee chairs were elected on Thursday, with the rest set to be elected on Monday.

Socialist MEP Vital Moreira from Portugal was elected as chair of the international trade committee, while French MEP Alain Lamassoure from the EPP group took the budgets committee.

Fellow compatriot Pervenche Beres from the Socialist grouping took the employment and social affairs committee, while UK MEP Malcom Harbour from the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists group took the important internal market and consumer protection.

Legal affairs went to German MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne from the EPP, civil liberties went to Socialist MEP Fernando Lopez Aguilar from Spain, and women's rights and gender equality went to Swedish MEP Eva-Britt Svensson from the left-wing GUE/NGL group. Petitions went to Italian MEP Erminia Mazzoni from the EPP.

Le Pen used 'fake' EU parliament jobs

A leaked EU anti-fraud office report says French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, had her bodyguard and personal assistant paid by the EU parliament for jobs they did not do.

MEPs look for ways to defund far-right party

The Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) has sued the European Parliament for changing its party funding rules last year. Meanwhile, MEPs probe their duty to fund a party that brings together people with neo-Nazi and fascist past.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  4. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  5. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  8. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  9. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  10. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  11. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  12. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIEU Not to Revise the Working Time Directive
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsAzerbaijan: 76 NGOs Urge the EU to Use President's Visit to Insist on Human Rights Reforms
  3. UNICEFDeadliest Winter for Migrant Children Crossing the Central Mediterranean
  4. World VisionGaza Staff Member Pleads Not Guilty
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region First to Consider Complete Ban on Microplastics in Cosmetics
  6. Dialogue PlatformWhy the West 'Failed to Understand' Turkey
  7. European Jewish CongressInternational Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony
  8. European Free AllianceCatalan Independence Referendum: A Matter of Democracy
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsKyrgyzstan: No Justice for Human Rights Defender Azimjan Askarov
  10. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  11. World VisionEU Urged to Do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  12. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children