Sunday

18th Aug 2019

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.

... or 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.

Exclusive

Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings

The German former secretary-general of the European Commission held some 21 meetings which were registered in the lobby register. But no documents appeared to exist summarising what was said.

Exclusive

EU parliament rejects ombudsman over expenses

The European Parliament questions whether the ombudsman had the right to criticise the institution's "margin of discretion" in deciding on publication of confidential papers about the controversial monthly €4,513 expenses lump sum for MEPs.

Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules

Only half of EU staff claim good knowledge of their workplace's ethics rules, while 82 percent of staff at the European Parliament have never attended any ethics trainings, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors.

News in Brief

  1. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us