Tuesday

22nd May 2018

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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Macron and Orban defend opposing EU visions

Two models - of deeper integration and liberal values, versus a Europe of strong and illiberal nations - will define voters' choices in the EU elections in 2019.

Analysis

Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget

The Commission wants the next EU budget to prove the bloc has survived Brexit unscathed. However, some net payers disagree. The EU executive plans to put out an overall budget figure of 1.13 to 1.18 percent of EU GNI.

Opinion

Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

Opinion

Europe's budget stasis

The EU's budgetary muddling through might not be enough when the next crisis hits.

News in Brief

  1. German prosecutor orders Puigdemont to Spain
  2. EU to split trade and investment agreements
  3. EU to start trade talks with Australia and New Zealand
  4. Unknown professor proposed as Italy's new prime minister
  5. 154 German economists warn against eurozone reform
  6. Growing €176bn EU trade deficit with China
  7. All 4.8m Swedish homes get 'war preparation' leaflet
  8. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. US asks EU to go after Russian and African villains
  2. Facebook threatened with removal from EU-US data pact
  3. Defence firms 'reap benefits' of their advice to EU
  4. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  5. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  6. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  7. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  8. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border