Friday

18th Jan 2019

Growing support for Greek ombudsman candidate

As the election for the next European Ombudsman enters its first round in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, three of the Parliament's political groups look set to support Greek candidate, Nikiforis Diamandouros.

The decision by the Socialists, Liberals and Greens to give their backing to the Greek national ombudsman, puts further pressure on the second favourite in the race, UK Conservative MEP, Roy Perry, who has secured the majority of EPP votes.

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

Five candidates now remain in the Ombudsman election. Following last-minute decisions by Greek and Spanish candidates, Georgios Anastassopoulos and Xabier Marchiegi, to pull out of the contest, two Belgians, Pierre-Yyes Monette and Herman Wuyts, an Italian, Giuseppe Fortunato, the Greek national ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, and UK Conservative MEP, Roy Perry now remain.

Mr Diamandouros and Mr Perry have emerged as the two favourites having secured the backing of the Parliament’s two largest groups, the Socialists and the centre right European People’s Party (EPP) respectively.

EPP leader, Hans-Gert Pöttering, quashed rumours yesterday that German and French MEPs may be unwilling to support a UK Conservative for the position by calling on all group members to support the candidature of Roy Perry.

Mr Perry faced tough questions from Socialist group members in a debate organised on Monday by the Campaign for Parliament Reform, as to why an elected politician should be eligible for the post. "I would resolutely maintain the neutrality and objectivity the post requires," replied Mr Perry, referring to his close co-operation with current Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman, and his work on the Parliament’s Petitions Committee.

Nevertheless, the Socialist group has already thrown its weight behind Greek national ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros. "At the beginning of this process we took a clear decision that the election of the new Ombudsman should not be a political contest and that our support for any particular candidate would be on the basis of competence and experience," said Enrique Baron, leader of the Socialist group.

The Liberal group also supports the view that an experienced ombudsman should take over the position. While stressing that all candidates had strong credentials for the job, Graham Watson, the Liberal group leader, said the group "did not believe that it is ideal for someone from the institutions to take the job."

The Green group is also reported to be in favour of voting for a candidate with ombudsman experience and the position of Parliament’s remaining smaller groups is uncertain. It is also not known what level of support will be awarded to Mr Monette, a Belgian Federal Ombudsman, who emerged as a strong candidate in the early stages of the contest.

The winning candidate must obtain an absolute majority of the votes cast. If no clear winner emerges in today’s first round, the second round will take place on Wednesday, with the possibility of a third on Thursday.

Germany led way on EU human rights protection

Germany led the way on protection of human rights this year, but Hungary, Italy, and Poland "undermined the EU's moral standing" on the world stage, a leading NGO said.

Opinion

How to troll the European Parliament elections

The May 2019 European parliament elections will take place in a context which make a very promising ground for protest votes and extreme views, aided by bots and algorithms.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Opinion

How to troll the European Parliament elections

The May 2019 European parliament elections will take place in a context which make a very promising ground for protest votes and extreme views, aided by bots and algorithms.

Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret

A number of centre-right MEPs are pushing for a secret ballot on a plenary vote that would make EU lawmakers more transparent and accountable to the public - in a move described as "absurd" by Transparency International.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us