Ursula von der Leyen meets with MEPs to keep candidacy afloat, Greek citizens cast their votes, and Hello Kitty steals the show. This episode is supported by the European Snacks Association.
It was an important week for Commission President nominee Ursula von der Leyen.
It has been just over a week since she was nominated and everyone is still getting to know who she is. Like the fact that she was once hoisted out of a barrel on TV by actor Hugh Jackman and kissed by George Clooney after handing him an award.
— James Crisp (@JamesCrisp6) July 8, 2019
von der Leyen spent the week making the rounds to speak with MEP’s from different political groups as she tried to build a coalition.
This week in Parliament:
📌 President Sassoli and political groups' leaders meet Ursula von der Leyen, candidate for Commission President.
📌Parliament's committees hold their constitutive meetings to elect their chairs and vice-chairs.
— Jaume Duch (@jduch) July 8, 2019
She came in with a left friendly pitch, according to Ryan Heath. She called for a gender-equal commission, Europe to be the first “climate-neutral” continent, and UK to stay in the EU.
So far today @vonderleyen has announced she wants a gender-equal commission, Europe to be the first "climate-neutral" continent, and UK to stay in the EU. It's certainly a left-friendly pitch.
— Ryan Heath (@PoliticoRyan) July 10, 2019
She also promised to “anchor the spitzenkandidaten system,” which many found ironic and amusing.
— James Crisp (@JamesCrisp6) July 10, 2019
But her pitch wasn’t good enough to get any endorsements.
On Wednesday night the Greens announced they will vote against her, citing a lack of “concrete proposals” on climate change or rule of law.
BREAKING: We'll vote against Commission President nominee #vonderLeyen.
"We didn't hear any concrete proposal, be it on rule of law or on climate. We've been elected on a mandate for change & don't see how change will be possible with this candidate."
— Greens/EFA in the EU Parliament (@GreensEFA) July 10, 2019
The Green parties spitzenkandidaten Ska Keller tweeted “We have been elected for a mandate of change and we don’t see how this will be possible with her.”
We didn't hear concrete proposals from Ursula @vonderleyen, be it on rule of law or on #climate. We have been elected for a mandate of change and we don't see how this will be possible with her. This is why as @greensefa we decided not to support her candidacy next week.
— Ska Keller (@SkaKeller) July 10, 2019
MEP Damian Boeselager said he expected her answers to be more concrete, leading him to wonder whether she was evading questions or just did not know the answers?
WHY @vonderleyen DID NOT CONVINCE ME TO VOTE FOR HER:
1. I don’t believe she’d be a voice for a stronger European democracy
2. I expected her answers to be more concrete
Was she evading the questions or did she not know the answers?
We can do better.https://t.co/XNYDhAPHx5
— Damian Boeselager (@d_boeselager) July 10, 2019
GUE MEPs have also announced their decision to oppose von der Leyen. After meeting with her on Thursday morning, the group said “her responses were insufficient to satisfy the basic aspirations of EU citizens.”
"Her responses were insufficient to satisfy the basic aspirations of EU citizens.” @schirdewan
— The Left in the European Parliament (@GUENGL) July 11, 2019
As for the other political groups, they say they’ll announce their decisions next week. MEP’s are expected to vote on van der Leyen’s nomination on Tuesday.
— Beatriz Ríos (@BeaRios_) July 11, 2019
While it is not clear whether EPP candidate will have the votes to be the next Commission President, they do have another leader on the world stage.
Over the weekend, voters in Greece went to the polls to cast their votes in a snap election.
The results were a landslide. Left wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was trounced by center-right conservative politician Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras called conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to congratulate him on his victory in general elections, an opposition party official said. More: https://t.co/Mxr2njRV7k pic.twitter.com/B7D5p9VBiw
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 7, 2019
Looking to cement his authority, Misotakis got right down to business. By Monday afternoon, the outside of the Presidential Palace was already being prepared for the inauguration.
— Georg Matthes (@GeorgMatthes) July 8, 2019
And just over a day after the votes were counted, he was sworn in as Greece’s new Prime Minister.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been sworn in as Greece’s new prime minister, a day after his centre-right New Democracy party won the country’s snap general election. pic.twitter.com/NySYIoeGxZ
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 8, 2019
The two men posed for a photo as the outgoing Prime Minister handed over the offices. Derek Gatopoulos notes it was a little more formal this time around. In 2015, the outgoing PM just left the keys under the rug.
— Derek Gatopoulos (@dgatopoulos) July 8, 2019
At least that is better than the Prime Minister before that, Antonis Samaras. He flat out refused to hand over the keys and had his staff start removing items from the offices.
Samaras, who is perhaps the most vulgar PM in Greece's recent history, not only refused to do the handover: he actually had his staff remove stationery and soaps. An absolute clown. https://t.co/78spPZOwrt
— ʏɪᴀɴɴɪs ʙᴀʙᴏᴜʟɪᴀs (@YiannisBab) July 8, 2019
On Tuesday, the commission announced a 6.2 million euro fine against Sanrio, the maker of Hello Kitty for banning traders from selling to customers in other EU countries.
We are fining Sanrio €6.2 million for restricting cross-border sales of products featuring Hello Kitty characters.
Sanrio's illegal practices were in force for 11 years and prevented EU consumers from benefiting from the Single Market advantages.
More → https://t.co/JlwW0tIgZC pic.twitter.com/45NI5lM3iC
— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) July 9, 2019
Once the midday press briefing rolled around, and spokesperson for competition policy Ricardo Cardoso took to the podium, the popular children’s character stole the show.
After the @EU_Commission announced Sanrio, the maker of Hello Kitty merchandise will be fined 6.2m euros for banning traders from selling to customers in other EU countries, the popular children's character stole the show at today's midday press briefing! #mubxl pic.twitter.com/SH9ptw2LGa
— Daniel Perreault (@DPerreaultTV) July 9, 2019
Aoife White saluted Cardoso for keeping a straight face as he read different aliases for the famous character, saying it would be a bad idea to play poker with him.
— Aoife White (@aoifewhite101) July 9, 2019
After the briefing, Cardoso quipped “It took a lot of self discipline to prepare for this – picture the Rocky training montage but with Hello Kitty characters.”
It took a lot of self discipline to prepare for this – picture the Rocky training montage but with Hello Kitty characters.
— Ricardo Cardoso (@RCardosoEU) July 9, 2019
Cardoso should be proud of his performance, according to Pablo Perez, Tuesdays press briefing should go down among the top 3 of all time.
When @EU_Commission has to communicate on Hello Kitty.
Directly to the TOP3 performances in the Press Room.
— Pablo Pérez 🇪🇺 (@PabloPerezA) July 9, 2019
How much do you think #savourysnacks contribute to the average #European's salt intake? In fact, they only account for 2 to 4%. For more #mythbusting and info on #sensiblesnacking, follow us now! pic.twitter.com/myn9SZ2gkb
— Savoury Snacks Europe (@ESA_Snacks) May 14, 2019
Jennifer Baker will be back next week with more tweets and treats from the Brussels Bubble Twittersphere.