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06/12/2016

Farage again denied key European Parliament posts

EU Elections 2014

Farage again denied key European Parliament posts

Nigel Farage: voted against [European Parliament/Flickr]

After blocking Eurosceptic EFDD’s attempts to gain the presidency of any European Parliamentary Committees in July, pro-European groups have once again joined forces to sideline Nigel Farage’s group in the Parliamentary Delegation elections. EurActiv France reports.

Already excluded from the top positions in the Parliamentary Committees, the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group (EFDD) led by Nigel Farage, finds itself once again pushed out of the running for top positions in the parliamentary delegations.

>> Read: Pro-EU parties shut out Farage’s EFDD from committees

The aim of the 43 European Parliament delegations is to “maintain and develop Parliament’s international contacts”. Although they have no legislative role, the Delegations support the Parliament’s interaction with third countries.

Several Parliamentary Delegations held their constitutional meetings on 13 October, electing their presidents and vice-presidents by secret ballot. The smooth running of these elections depends on the d’Hondt system, a complex mathematical system used to distribute key positions within the different organisations of the Parliament, which is accepted by politicians of all colours.

Fair distribution

Under this system, the top roles in the European Parliament are distributed proportionally among the political groups, depending on their size.

The EFDD group has gained greater influence in the European Parliament since the strong performance of the Eurosceptic parties in the latest European elections.

They now boast 48 members, an increase of 17 on the previous Parliament, which in theory should grant them access to more positions of responsibility within the committees and delegations of the European Parliament.

Pro-European Front

In practice, however, the main pro-European parties, the European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) have agreed to cooperate to keep MEPs from Nigel Farage’s group out of the top positions in the Parliamentary Committees and Delegations.

“The presidency of the Delegation for Relations with the Pan-African Parliament was supposed to go to a member of the EFDD. But the main political groups chose to field another candidate, supported by the socialists, the EPP and the liberals,” explained Marie-Christine Vergiat, a French Left Front MEP and a member of this delegation.

The EFDD spokesperson Hermann Kelly told EurActiv that “these Delegations are neither proportional nor representative. This is a plot by the large groups to exclude the legitimate voices of the smaller groups. The European Parliament has rejected the d’Hondt system and I am sure that the EFDD group’s voters will be offended that [Europe] has refused to listen to their demands”.

The EFDD’s exclusion does not stop with the Delegation for Relations with the Pan-African Parliament: they have also been deprived of key positions in the Delegations to Australia and New Zealand, Montenegro and the Maghreb countries.

The remaining Parliamentary Delegations will go to the ballot on 16 October to elect their presidents and vice-presidents.

Déjà vu

This is not the first time that the pro-Europeans have joined forces against the Eurosceptic group.

Nigel Farage’s group was edged out of the presidency of the Petitions Committee during the Parliamentary Committee elections. A grand coalition of the European Parliament’s three main groups instead handed the post to the Swedish liberal MEP Cecilia Wikström.

>> Read: Greens back Farage in row over EU Parliament chairs

Despite the political gulf that separates the EFDD and the Greens, the Europhile environmentalist party refused to play a part in this subversion of the d’Hondt system, denouncing the main groups’ agreement as “a serious assault on the democratic procedures of the European Parliament”.

Background

The appointment of committee chairs follows the d'Hondt system – named after the Belgian mathematician who designed the method – which allocates positions on the basis of political groups' size.

However, the precise allocation of seats may shift until the last minute, as political horse-trading continues between the main political groups.

Timeline

  • 16 October 2014: remaining delegations elect their Presidents and Vice-Presidents

Further Reading