Wednesday

20th Jun 2018

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.

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.

... our join as a group

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.

Interview

Academic to probe EU's secret law-making

A German PhD candidate has recently started conducting interviews about how the EU's behind-closed-doors 'trilogues' actually work. "Now the fun work starts," he says.

EP in blame game on Zuckerberg meeting format

[UPDATED] Last month's 'hearing' with Facebook CEO allowed him to give only general or evasive answers about the data breach scandal involving Cambridge Analytica - partly due to the controversial format of the meeting.

Visual Data

EU budget: Biggest cuts and increases

The European Parliament accused the EU Commission of not providing clear figures for a comparison of the proposed and the current EU budgets. We take a look at the main differences.

Visegrad Four 'nothing to hide' on rule of law issue

Central European countries say they have "nothing to hide" on rule of law issues - while justice commissioner Vera Jourova said they should agree to the Commission's controversial budget plans on rule of law conditionality.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us