Sunday

20th Aug 2017

EP top job battle risks getting ugly

The two biggest European Parliament (EP) political groups will present their candidates for the next president in December, amid rifts over who will get the top post when, and if, the incumbent, Martin Schulz, steps down.

The centre-left S&D, Schulz's group, will present their candidate on 8 December, while the centre-right EPP will do the same on 14 December.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The race is already stirring tension amid rumour that Schulz intends to stay on despite a power-sharing deal between the two groups.

In 2014 they signed an agreement that Schulz would cede his post to an EPP successor.

But that deal now appears to be unraveling, with the centre-left accusing the EPP of not holding up its terms and of vying to lead all three EU institutions. The EPP already has Donald Tusk in the European Council, representing member states, and Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Commission.

Italian MEP Gianni Pittella, who leads the socialist group, told reporters in Strasbourg, that Schulz needs to remain parliament president in January.

"We are in favour of Martin Schulz because he safeguards an important role for the parliament at a key moment to make sure that the European Parliament role is not undermined," he said.

Pittella has also accused the EPP of reneging on the deal after Tusk landed the top job at the European Council.

"It was agreed that the presidency of the European Council would go to the Socialist forces. This not being the case, andin the event that the current president of the European Parliament should not be reconfirmed, the imbalance would be even more apparent," he said in a 13-page strategy paper that outlines the group's broad policy direction, published on the Politico website.

Two parliament sources told this website that Pittella is also afraid of losing his own job if Schulz does not carry on as president. Schulz was previously the S&D group leader and could possibly take up the post again.

Another source said the 2014 agreement didn't include giving the socialists the presidency of the European Council as stated by Pittella.

Juncker backs Schulz

Juncker has also endorsed Schulz for a third term.

Despite vying for the EU commission presidency post in 2014, the two men are close and often dine together, along with other group leaders and with commission vice president Frans Timmermans.

Meanwhile, other moves are being made to limit Schulz's grip on the 751-seat assembly.

The British conservative MEP leader Ashley Fox is pushing to limit the European parliament president to two terms.

Last week in the parliament's constitutional affairs committee, he introduced an amendment that would block Schulz from running a third 2.5-year term. Some 50 MEPs from across political groups, excluding the socialists and the Europe of Nations and Freedom party, signed it.

It will likely go to a plenary vote in December, around the same time candidates are being officially selected.

The candidates

A handful of possible candidates from the centre-right is already emerging.

Among them is French MEP Alain Lamassoure, Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness, and former EU commissioner Antonio Tajani. None of them figure EPP leader Manfred Weber who, at the age of 44, is seen as too young and whose political trajectory may instead take him to Germany.

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.

Analysis

Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue

Fico convinced the EU commission chief to take action in the perceived problem of discriminatory food practices, even though the evidence for the phenomenon is anecdotal.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides