MEPs elect committee chairs


In a final constitutive lap, MEPs yesterday (16 July) elected chairs and vice-chairs of 12 parliamentary committees. Voting will end on Monday with appointments to the remaining ten committees, including two sub-committees.

After weeks of horse trading among the political groups and national delegations, MEPs yesterday (16 July) selected the men and women who are going to lead legislative work in the European Parliament’s eighth legislature since the first elections thirty years ago. 

Italy wins big, France and Germany follow

Possibly as a trade-off for having lost the Parliament’s presidency and being the second largest delegation in the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the political family that won the elections in June, Italy was given control of the highest number of committees, followed by France and Germany. A large number of vice-chairs are also Italian, and include Berlusconi’s protegée, Barbara Matera, who was elected vice-chair of the women’s rights and gender equality committee.

Centre-right grabs all key economic portfolios

Clearly, the economic committees have shifted to the centre-right. The Parliament’s third-largest group, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE), has managed to secure control of the two parliamentary committees, which will be key in dealing with the economic and financial crisis. 

German Liberal MEP Wolf Klinz will chair a special committee on the crisis, while British MEP Sharon Bowles will chair the committee on economic and monetary affairs (ECON). 

The largest political group, the European People’s Party (EPP), will head the other two committees relevant for the European economy: UK Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour has been elected to lead the internal market and consumer protection committee (IMCO) and German Christian Democrat Herbert Reul will chair the industry committee (ITRE). 

Also in the EPP camp, the budget committee, which will be chaired by French member Alain Lamassoure. Meanwhile, budgetary control will be lead by Italian ALDE MEP Luigi De Magistris. 

In a last-minute change, MEP Mario Mauro, who had been the leading candidate to head the foreign affairs committee since his withdrawal from the presidency race, decided to pull out and will head the Italian delegation, possibly to keep his options open as he is eying the Italian commissioner’s job, sources said in Strasbourg. 

Italy nonetheless maintained the seat and the chairmanship went to Gabriele Albertini, a former mayor of Milan. The foreign affairs committee (AFET), which is one of the institution’s most prestigious posts, has limited power under the Treaties, however. 

The Social Democrats secured more traditional centre-left portfolios, like environment, social affairs and civil liberties. Pervenche Berès, a French socialist, will head the employment and social affairs committee (EMPL), while German S&D MEP Jo Leinen was elected chair of the environment committee (ENVI). 

Elected and to-be elected chairs on Monday (those marked with *): 



AFET Foreign Affairs Gabriele ALBERTINI (Italy; EPP)
DROI Human Rights Heidi HAUTALA* (Finland; Greens)
SEDE Security and Defence Arnaud DANJEAN* (France; EPP)
DEVE Development Eva JOLY* (France; Greens)
INTA International Trade Vital Moreira (S&D, Portugal)
BUDG Budget Alain LAMASSOURE (France; EPP)
CONT Budgetary Control Luigi de MAGISTRIS* (Italy; ALDE)
ECON Economic and Monetary Affairs Sharon BOWLES (United Kingdom; ALDE)
EMPL Employment and Social Affairs Pervenche BERES (France; S&D)
ENVI Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Jo LEINEN (Germany; S&D)
ITRE Industry, Research and Energy Herbert REUL (Germany; EPP)
IMCO Internal Market and Consumer Protection Malcolm HARBOUR (United Kingdom; ECR)
TRAN Transport and Tourism Brian SIMPSON* (United Kingdom; S&D)
REGI Regional Development Danuta HÜBNER* (Poland; EPP)
AGRI Agriculture and Rural Development Paolo DE CASTRO* (Italy; S&D)
CULT Culture and Education Doris PACK *(Germany; EPP)
JURI Legal Affairs Klaus-Heiner LEHNE (Germany; EPP)
LIBE Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Fernando LOPEZ AGUILAR (Spain; S&D)
AFCO Constitutional Affairs Carlo Casini (Italy; EPP)
FEMM Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL, Sweden)
PETI Petitions Erminia Mazzoni (Italy, EPP)
Temporary Committe on the economic crisis Wolf KLINZ (ALDE, Germany)
Temporary Committe on budget reform TBC
Other key posts    
EU-China delegation Graham WATSON (United Kingdom; ALDE)
EU-ACP delegation Louis MICHEL (Belgium; ALDE)

Italian MEP calls for committee to fight the mafia

Newly-elected MEP Rosario Crocetta, mayor of the city of Gela in Sicily, who has been living under strict police protection in Italy and abroad since 2002, has asked the Parliament’s president to set up a new committee to fight mafias across Europe.

The S&D MEP said that nowadays there are so many criminal and mafia groups being formed in other European countries that their interconnection with the financial, entrepreneurial and political systems needed to be addressed. 

Speaking after his election to the chair of the internal market and consumer protection committee, UK Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour said: "I will be continuing my drive to complete the single market and deliver, in full, the promise of economic growth and opportunities for enterprise."

A member of the European Parliament since 1999, and EPP coordinator of the committee in the past legislature, Harbour is well known for being both business and consumer-friendly. 

"I will also be working to ensure that consumers are well informed and well protected and are able to take advantage of a dynamic and competitive market. This move also shows that as a result of forming a new group, Conservatives in the European Parliament are punching well above their weight and can influence key European legislation," he added. 

French Socialist MEP Pervenche Berès, a former chair of the economic and monetary affairs committee, will continue to play a big role on the other side of the fence as chair of the employmet and social affairs committee. She said she wants to bridge the two committees at a moment in which the two can play a leading role in tackling the financial and economic crisis. 

"Our first priority will be to reduce unemployment," she said, noting that the committee will have to deal with the microfinance initiative and a proposal to change European Social Fund rules. 

Swedish GUE/NGL MEP Eva-Britt Svensson, appointed chair of the committee on women's rights, declared: "This is a strategic post for the left, where we can finally have a role in defining the agenda and working towards stronger commitments for gender equality at EU level."

Listing her priorities as committee chair, Eva-Britt Svensson said she would work towards the appointment of an EU commissioner responsible for gender equality, the development of a new EU action plan on gender equality aimed at achieving the objectives set out in the UN Beijing Platform for Action designed to improve the lives of women across the world, EU policies to combat violence against women, and protecting women's sexual and reproductive rights. 

"We are confronted with lots of challenges, and our feminist perspectives will be important in finding and defining the political answers to the economic and financial crisis, to the climate crisis, and to build a more social Europe," she said, adding that the agenda on gender equality is not a separate one but a central element of any sustainable solution to some of the most important problems. 

After first electing their president, vice-presidents and quaestors, MEPs are now selecting their committee chairs. 

The distribution of the chairmanships was decided by negotiations between the political groups on the basis of a system which gives groups proportional representation according to their size (the so-called 'D'Hondt method'). 

The centre-right EPP group kept nine chairs, the Socialists six and the Liberals (ALDE) three. The Green group and the ECR group have taken one each. 

The chairmanship of committees with the most legislative power will be shared between the two largest groups, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and the the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in Europe (S&D), with each holding it for two-and-a-half years. 

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