Tuesday

5th Jul 2022

Socialists dismiss EU parliament unity plea

  • European Parliament group leaders, Gianni Pittella (l), Manfred Weber (c) and Guy Verhofstadt (r).

Gianni Pittella, leader of the European Parliament's socialist group, has rejected a call for further cooperation with the parliament's centre-right EPP group, in a move that could shake up the power balance of the house.

Pittella dismissed a plea for further cooperation made by EPP leader Manfred Weber in a letter to all MEPs as "quite amazing" and "surrealistic".

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

"The European Parliament works perfectly without structured alliances," Pittella said on Tuesday (13 December).

"Conservative Europe is taking us down the wrong road. We need change."

In effect, Pittella had already ended a long-standing pact with the EPP group by announcing his candidacy for parliament president. Under their agreement, the role should have gone to the centre-right bloc.

Worried that this could give a stronger voice to far-right forces in the house, Weber sent a letter to all MEPs on Monday urging pro-European forces to unite.

Weber told reporters on Tuesday: "For the last 2.5 years, we didn't have any legislative decision in this house without a compromise between the EPP and socialists. Either we carry on working on the basis of consensus, or we conduct party political games and everyone will fail."

He said a failure to cooperate could open the door to populists such as France's Marine Le Pen or the UK's Nigel Farage to become "kingmakers".

Campaign trail

It was uncertain, however, whether Pittella's bid for president would win the backing of other progressive groups, such as the liberal Alde and the Greens.

Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt is mulling his own bid, and will announce this week whether he is running or not.

The Greens hinted they could back an EPP candidate. Green co-chair Philippe Lamberts said the group's stance would become clear once the EPP candidate was elected on Tuesday evening.

The EPP is the only group of the European Parliament to elect its candidate for the presidential post in a primary rather than in-house selection.

Meanwhile, Weber's strong anti-populist rhetoric has angered groups such as the left-wing GUE/NGL, which doesn't want to be put in the same bag as far-right, racist parties.

"Mr Weber seems to forget he has Fidesz in his group," GUE MEP Helmut Scholz told this website, referring to the party of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.

EUobserved

Schulz: the end of a one-man parliament

Martin Schulz has been widely credited for raising the profile of the European Parliament during his terms at its helm. But he didn't do much to raise transparency and political accountability of the EU institutions.

Weber calls for stability after Schulz exit

The leader of the parliament's centre-right group Manfred Weber urged pro-European groups to rally behind a joint candidate as the assembly's next president.

Stakeholder

We must renew Europe for all Europeans

A call for socialist values and rights at a time when Europe is facing a number of existential threats, says a group of progressive European affairs ministers.

Opinion

Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds

The Chinese mission to the EU responds to last week's Madrid Nato summit, which stated China posed "systemic challenges" and warned against the "deepening strategic partnership between Russia and China".

News in Brief

  1. European gas production hit by Norway strike
  2. EU Commission told to step up fight against CAP fraud
  3. Ukraine needs €719bn to rebuild, says PM
  4. Germany records first monthly trade deficit since 1991
  5. Pilots from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden strike
  6. Report: EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia
  7. Israel and Poland to mend relations
  8. Von der Leyen: EU to set up Ukraine reconstruction platform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. EU Parliament sued over secrecy on Nazi MEP expenses
  2. Italy glacier tragedy has 'everything to do' with climate change
  3. The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark
  4. Report slams German opposition to new child sexual abuse rules
  5. Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds
  6. ECB announces major green shift in corporate bond-buying
  7. Ex-Frontex chief 'uninvited' from parliament committee
  8. Czech presidency and key nuclear/gas vote This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us