Tuesday

23rd May 2017

EU parliament job set aside for eastern Europe

Italian centre-right MEP Mario Mauro has dropped his bid to become EU parliament president, leaving the path clear for Polish conservative deputy Jerzy Buzek to take up the post.

Mr Mauro made the announcement on Sunday (5 July) following a congress of the centre-right EPP faction in Athens. The move is designed to avoid "unnecessary and damaging divisions" in the group, he said.

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The EPP will formally nominate Mr Buzek as its candidate on 7 July.

His appointment has to be confirmed by an EU parliament vote on 14 July. But the EPP is expected to make a deal with the socialist group, giving its man the job for the next two and a half years, followed by German centre-left MEP Martin Schulz in 2011.

Poland's Mr Buzek would become the first politician from one of the ex-Iron Curtain member states to hold a senior EU post if he gets through.

The 69-year old chemist has spent the past five years on the parliament's industry committee. He was prime minister of Poland in 1997 and an anti-Communism activist in the 1980s.

"I am a Pole. I will never forget where I came from. But in the European Parliament we represent Europeans," he told Polish TV on Sunday.

"We managed to convince the others that five years after enlargement a representative from one of the new member states deserves to get one of the important positions in the EU," Polish conservative MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski told the Rzeczpospolita daily.

Speculation has it that Mr Mauro will get the prestigious role of foreign affairs committee chairman in the next parliament. Italy has also indicated that its foreign minister, Franco Frattini, may compete for the new post of EU foreign minister.

Meanwhile, Poland is still shooting for a strong financial portfolio - such as competition or single market - in the European Commission.

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

MEPs preparing to crack down on Orban

The EU assembly's largest group is split by its "enfant terrible", but enough MEPs are likely to abstain or vote Yes on the "Article 7" crackdown over Orban's illiberal rule.

Macron and Merkel to 'reconstruct' the EU

The French and German leaders will present a common proposal to deepen and strengthen the EU and the eurozone. They say they are ready to change the EU treaties.

Analysis

Where might Macron clash with Europe?

After the celebrations around Europe of centrist Emmanuel Macron's win over far-right Marine Le Pen, the sobering years of governance are still to come. Macron might be pro-EU, but he has a lot of reform ideas that might irk others.

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, says the defeat of his social-democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia is "difficult". The elections showed that a "Schulz effect" does not (yet) exist.

Austria heading for snap elections

Foreign minister Kurz has taken leadership of the conservative party in what could lead to an alliance with the far-right.

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