MEPs to seal agreement on committee chair jobs
By Benjamin Fox
After electing a new(ish) President and most of their administrative posts, MEPs will return to Brussels next week to complete unfinished election business – the chairperson positions of the Parliament’s 20 standing committees.
The membership of committees was confirmed by MEPs in Strasbourg on Thursday (3 July) but the chairs will be formally elected when the committees hold their constitutive meetings on Monday.
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Under a deal between the Parliament’s seven political groups based on their size, the centre-right EPP group, which remains the largest faction with 221 of the Parliament’s 751 MEPs, has claimed eight chairman positions.
German christian democrat Elmar Brok is expected to retain the chairmanship of the foreign affairs committee which, despite having no legislative powers, has long been regarded by deputies as a trophy.
Elsewhere, Italian MEPs will be elected to chair the economic affairs and environment committees, two of the EU assembly’s main law-making committees. Centre-left deputy Roberto Gualtieri and the EPP’s Giovanni La Via have been nominated to take the posts.
However, while Olli Rehn and Antonio Tajani were elected as one of 14 Parliament vice-presidents this week, the two other EU commissioners-turned MEPs will miss out on Parliament jobs.
Polish centre-right MEP Jerzy Buzek is poised to take the chair of the industry committee, ahead of former budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, while three-term commissioner Viviane Reding, is likely to miss out on the legal affairs committee.
In addition to economic affairs, the S&D group will also take the high-profile civil liberties, international trade and development committees.
Despite renewed speculation about the UK’s continued EU membership, following David Cameron’s unsuccessful battle to prevent Jean-Claude Juncker’s nomination as the next European Commission, UK MEPs will secure at least three committee chair positions, fewer only than the five to be held by German deputies.
For their part, Polish MEPs will also hold the chairs of the Constitutional Affairs and Agriculture committees - by Danuta Huebner and Czeslaw Siekierski respectively.
Labour deputies Claude Moraes and Linda McAvan will claim the civil liberties and development committees, respectively, while Conservative MEP Vicky Ford is the next chair of the internal market committee.
Meanwhile, German deputy Thomas Handel of the left-wing GUE group is set to become the chair of the employment committee.
But although the committee chair positions are allocated according to the so called d’Hondt system, a calculus based on the size of the groups, a minor battle could ensue over the little-known petitions committee.
The eurosceptic EFDD group of Nigel Farage and Beppe Grillo has been allocated the committee’s top job, but the Parliament’s centrist groups may oppose them in Monday’s vote.