The Brief powered by ifaw- Is the S&D losing its D?

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter [Photo: EPA]

There was a time when the European Parliament’s contingent of socialist were socialists and nothing else. But could that be all set to change?

The main centre-left force in the EU chamber was always called the socialist group and it was only in 2009 that the Party of European Socialists (PES) renamed its parliamentary group as the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (commonly shortened to S&D group).

The story of how and why the socialists made this shift is a renowned one.

They wanted to embrace the Italian Democratic party (PD), at a time when a newborn centre-left party represented the only real barrier to the overwhelming power of Silvio Berlusconi.

Ever since the Italian democrats became the ‘D’ in the S&D, they have always been a crucial component within the group and will remain so in the next legislative term, despite haemorrhaging votes.

So it came as a surprise that Italy’s PD was among the guests of Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance on Saturday, a rally with the clear intention to build a centrist group of around 100 MEPs.

So what’s really going on? Is there a risk that the next socialist group will lose its ‘D’? And will the Italian Dems flesh out the D of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)?

First, it is worth recalling that the Italian Democratic Party put the PES logo on its electoral lists, explicitly claiming its membership of the European socialist political party, which has never been in question.

But the same cannot be said for its membership of the parliamentary group. That’s what former minister Carlo Calenda, who is the PD’s leading candidate in the North-East, said.

“If there will be a progressive group from Macron to Tsipras, I’ll be part of it, otherwise I’ll be in the group of the European socialist party,” he said during a TV debate in April.

Furthermore, another PD candidate is actually Macron’s runner in Italy: 38-year-old Caterina Avanza was a close collaborator of the French president and a campaigner for La République En Marche(LREM).

It was also confirmed to EURACTIV that some running Italian democrats are already being contacted by LREM to keep a door open and are being persuaded to join Macron’s group.

Something is moving within the PD and many bridges are being built. That’s probably why the new PD leader Nicola Zingaretti met his LREM counterpart, Stainslas Guerini, in Turin on Sunday.

It sounds like a signal to the candidates of his party: I know you’re in contact with Macron, but I’m in contact with him as well and I’ll find out everything you’re going to do. So, play fair.

A mass shift of Italian democrats outside the socialist group still seems highly unlikely. But one thing is for sure: if S&D ever does lose its ‘D’, it will only be down to the allure of Macron, not the liberals.

ifaw celebrates 50 years of helping animals

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working in more than 40 countries around the world. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. 

The Roundup

By Beatriz Rios

Consumers in Belgium have been paying more for their beer according to Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who decided to fine AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, €200 million for restricting cross-border sales of Jupiler to protect higher prices in the country.

Eight out of the ten worst airports in the world are located in the EU – in France, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and the UK-, a survey conducted by a leading specialist in passengers rights revealed.

Romania’s Schengen hopes are at risk, after the Commission sent a warning letter to Bucharest given the concerns over the judicial independence and fight against corruption in the country, which could eventually lead to the activation of Article 7 of the EU treaties.

In today’s The Capitals, you can read all about Macron’s pitch for the centre ground and all the other news you need from around Europe.

Viktor Orban, whose country is under scrutiny due to the concerns over the rule of law, is in Washington to meet US President Donald Trump to discuss how to deepen cooperation on trade, energy and cyber security. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Brussels to discuss Iran with EU counterparts.

Today’s social classes do not necessarily differ in income or work in emissions,  two climate scientists argued in an interview with EURACTIV on the socio-economic aspect of climate change.

Nigel Farage and the Brexit party keep leading the polls ten days before the European elections, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer newspaper. Meanwhile, Theresa May’s ruling Conservative party has fallen into fourth place.

Stay tuned to the website for a story on a leaked EU report that boosts calls for a tax on jet fuel. And sign up to our new Transport Brief, which will be pulling into your inboxes tomorrow morning!

Look out for…

Day 2 of the foreign affairs council.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Sam Morgan and Zoran Radosavljevic]

Subscribe to our newsletters


Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.