Saturday

31st Oct 2020

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

  • Following Brexit, 27 new MEPs from various member states are set to take their seats in the European Parliament (Photo: European Parliament)

Following the UK's departure from the EU last week, 73 British MEPs are no longer members of the European Parliament.

As a result, 27 new MEPs from different member states are set to take their seats - while the remaining 46 seats will be reserved for potential EU enlargements or a possible future creation of transnational lists.

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After Brexit, France and Spain gained five members each, Italy and the Netherlands got three, while Ireland had two more MEPs. Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Croatia, Estonia, Poland and Romania also had one MEP extra each from 1 February.

Among them, here are five post-Brexit MEPs who could make a big name of themselves - for good or bad.

Sandro Gozi

One of the most notables names among the list of new liberal French MEPs is the Italian president of the European Federalists, Sandro Gozi - the only MEP elected with a different nationality from that of the country that voted for him.

As a result, Gozi will be representing Emmanuel Macron's La Republique en Marche party in the parliament, despite being a member of the Italian Democratic Party (PD).

"I will be the first Italian in Renew Europe, and for Italy, I think it is an advantage that there is a strongly pro-European Italian who goes to the third-largest group in the European Parliament," Gozi told the Union of European Federalists in an interview.

Gozi has a long experience as a political advisor. From 2000 to 2005, he worked for Romano Prodi, the then president of the European Commission.

But last year, the Italian former secretary of state for European affairs was under media scrutiny, when it was reported that he was advisor to both the French prime minister Edouard Philippe and Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat at the same time.

Meanwhile, Muscat resigned last month over his handling and possible interference into the investigation in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Clara Ponsatí

The former minister of education of the Catalan government, Clara Ponsatí, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Scotland since 2017, is expected to take her seat as an MEP on 10 February.

However, the Spanish Supreme Court on Monday (3 February) urged the UK to maintain the European arrest warrant issued against MEP Ponsat, as the judges understand that she has not parliamentarian immunity in Britain after Brexit.

Ponsatí is likely to face the same legal and procedural challenges as the former head of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, and his former minister, Toni Comín - who have been involved in a tug-of-war with the Spanish authorities since they were elected in last May's European election.

For now, Pontasí also faces the same problems as Puigdemont and Comín to find a political family in the EU parliament.

Dominik Tarczynski

Likewise, the former member of the Polish parliament from the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), Dominik Tarczynski, who became the new vice-president of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) will be an interesting personality to keep an eye on due to his anti-immigration vision of a Christian Europe.

Earlier this year, Tarczynski said: "if you don't want to be arrested, if you don't want to be shot, don't come to the Polish border. It's as simple as that".

Riho Terras

Another interesting MEP to follow up during the next EP term will be Estonia's seventh member, Riho Terras, who will be joining the European People's Party (EPP).

After his military career, the 52-year-old Estonian army general and former commander of the defence forces has continued working for his company, which develops unmanned vehicles for defence and security forces.

Terras told media on Friday that he would like to focus on economic issues currently being addressed by the committee on industry, research and energy (ITRE) and the committee on agriculture (AGRI).

However, his unique experience in the military field might be useful for the whole parliament as some member states want to boost security and defence in the EU.

Thomas Waitz

After several months in the limbo, the member of the Greens' team in the coalition talks with Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and co-chair of the European Green Party, Thomas Waitz, came back to Brussels to continue working for a more sustainable Europe.

Lately, he has pushed to end coal mining as soon as possible, acknowledging that EU funding is necessary "to ensure a smooth and just transition for the people living in these areas".

During his last mandate, MEP Waitz criticised members states, such as Romania, for their unjustified use of pesticides and advocated for a more transparent process for the authorisation of these chemicals.

Boost for Right in post-Brexit EU parliament

The far-right Identity and Democracy will overtake the Greens as the fourth-largest party in the European Parliament on 1 February, after the UK's MEPs vacate their seats.

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