EPP picks Tajani as candidate for European Parliament chief

Antonio Tajani [Piotr Drabik/Flickr}]

The European Union’s centre-right grouping yesterday (13 December) elected Antonio Tajani as its candidate to replace Social Democrat Martin Schulz as President of the European Parliament, a move that could increase calls for a reshuffle of other top EU jobs.

Tajani, a former Commissioner, is a member of the rightist Forza Italia party and a close ally of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Besides Tajani, three party MEPs were candidates in the “primary”: Former French minister Alain Lamassoure, Ireland’s Mairead McGuinness and Slovenia’s Alojz Peterle.

Tajani was seen as a controversial candidate among his other EPP contenders. He served as the European Commissioner for Transport and then for Industry under José Manuel Barroso, and questions have been raised about his implication in the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

EPP candidates line up to replace Schulz

Five centre-right candidates are in the running to become the next president of the European Parliament. But after five years in the job, Martin Schulz has no intention of stepping down. EURACTIV France reports.

The Socialists & Democrats, the second biggest grouping in Parliament, have said the election of a conservative president would unsettle the EU’s balance of power by giving the European People’s Party (EPP) the presidencies of all three major EU bodies.

Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker runs the European Commission and Poland’s Donald Tusk chairs EU summits as president of the European Council. Both are EPP members.

Schulz’s departure 'gives chance for EU reset’

The decision of European Parliament President Martin Schulz to return to domestic politics, where he is expected to run for chancellor in Germany’s October 2017 election, raises questions about the political future of his Commission counterpart, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Tusk’s own mandate expires at the end of May, but he is expected to want to stay on, despite opposition from the Polish government, controlled by his arch-enemy Jarosław Kaczyński.

Kaczynski blames Tusk for Smolensk crash

Responsibility for the 2010 plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczyński along with 95 other people lay with the then government of Donald Tusk, the late president’s twin brother and leader of the current ruling party said yesterday (10 April) at an event to commemorate the disaster.

Juncker has three years left in office, although his position has been weakened by Britain’s vote to leave the EU and by a failed plan to manage last year’s refugee crisis with mandatory quotas of refugees for member states.

EU's Juncker under pressure to resign after Brexit vote

Pressure is building on Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to resign following the UK referendum, but also over the need to “change the habits” of his way to run the EU executive over the last two years.

As the candidate of the largest grouping in the chamber, Tajani looks likely to become the next parliament chief, although a win is not certain as the EPP has only 215 of 751 seats.

Italian duel?

The S&D, ending a decade-long alliance with the EPP, has presented its own candidate for the presidency, Gianni Pittella, an Italian lawmaker close to Italy’s most recent Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi.

Pittella said his aim was to reduce the appeal of growing anti-establishment movements that prosper by depicting moderate parties of all political hues as pursuing the same agenda.

He also said the grand coalition between the EPP and the Socialist & Democrats was over and could not be re-established,

Socialists declare end to EU institution grand coalition

The European Parliament grand coalition between the right-wing European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialist and Democrats (S&D group) is over and cannot be re-established, said its chief, Gianni Pittella, today (13 December) during a news conference in Strasbourg.

But a spat between Europe’s two main political families may, in fact, give anti-system and anti-EU groups a boost.

A divided parliament may find it more difficult to pass legislation and such stalemate may strengthen eurosceptic parties such as Britain’s UKIP, France’s Front National and Italy’s Five Star movement.

EU Parliament ‘Grand Coalition’ is at risk, party leaders admit

A dispute over who should be appointed as the next President of the EU Assembly as well as disagreement about austerity-driven policies have put the two biggest political parties in the European Parliament on a collision course that endangers the ‘grand coalition’, EURACTIV has learned.

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