The Brief – Everyone’s a winner

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

For all the ink spilled on whether the Spitzenkandidaten process will survive and speculation over the name of the next European Commission president, for real political junkies in Brussels, the action is somewhere else.

Regardless of what happens when EU leaders burn the midnight oil on Sunday night in their latest attempt to agree on who leads the EU executive for the next five years, spinners and fixers in the European Parliament are holding their own job fair this summer.

While the fight over the EU top jobs will inevitably produce losers, in the Parliament, everyone is a winner, largely because it has far more baubles to hand out. On top of the chairs of the 22 legislative committees, all of which have four vice-chairs, the Parliament itself has 14 vice-presidents.

That’s before you get to the chairs of the 44 parliamentary delegations and, last but not least, the five quaestors who deal with the administration of the Parliament. The titles don’t bring a higher salary, but they do mean a bigger office.

The Parliament presidency may, officially at least, be the top job, but the real power in the assembly lies in its standing committees, particularly those with the heaviest legislative workload.

What is gratifying is to see how little the priorities of the political groups change over time.

The top choice of the EPP is always the Foreign Affairs committee for its German Christian Democrat delegation – a baffling choice since the committee is basically a talking shop with precious little legislative power and tends to be filled by the assembly’s most pompous members – followed by Industry.

For a second mandate in a row, the Socialists have picked the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee, arguably the most influential in the assembly, while Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche is set to provide the chair of the Environment committee.

Ominously, the new far-right Identity and Democracy group have earmarked the Agriculture and Legal Affairs committees although, in practice, the mainstream pro-European groups tend to make sure that the far-right are kept away from positions where they would be able to undermine the Parliament’s work.

These are the easiest times to be in the EU assembly. Egos are stroked by officials and lobbyists anxious to curry favour at the start of a new term. The golden summer lasts until the hearings for the new Commission start in the autumn. Then the real work begins.

The Roundup

By Alexandra Brzozowski

Europe’s leading democracy and human rights organisation elected a new leadership, overshadowed by the walk-out of several delegations following the ratification of Russia’s return to the assembly.

Political groups in the new European Parliament have started carving up the top jobs ahead of next week’s inaugural session. Internally, each political group stated their first choices for positions on the 20 committees to grab.

Spanish MEP Sira Rego will stand as the left’s candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament.

Danish Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will stay in Brussels for a second term even if she fails in her bid to become the next European Commission chief.

On the eve of taking over the EU’s Council presidency, new Finnish PM Antti Rinne accepted the possibility of a “small” eurozone budget to support investments.

NATO defence ministers met to discuss strategies against the threat of new Russian missile systems, as the landmark nuclear arms control treaty against land-based nuclear warheads is due to collapse next month.

The EU should establish a type of ‘Marshall plan’ to support the sustainability of the bloc’s media sector, experts and MEPs say.

Right- and left-wing violence cannot be equated, an expert said in an interview with EURACTIV Germany.  Meanwhile, the far-right’s influence in Europe could be much greater than its new EU Parliamentary group suggests, writes Faisal Al Yafai.

Threats in the wider Mediterranean region and ongoing tensions between Rome and Paris are threatening Italy’s geostrategic role in European and global defence in the region, experts say.

Cyprus is seeing a major increase in the number of migrants from third countries arriving from Turkey, with the tacit approval of Ankara, says Cypriot interior minister.

Artificial Intelligence has taken huge strides in the last decade. It can now recognise faces, coordinate self-driving cars or even compose music. The EU should consider the need for new regulation to “ensure adequate protection from adverse impacts”.

Look out for…

The German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum continues with its second day.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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