EU summit suggests Stanishev to take over as European Parliament chief

The Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa (R) speaks to his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sanchez (L) accompanied by the President of Party European Socialist, Sergei Stanishev (C) during the XI Party of European Socialists Congress under the theme 'Fair, Free, Sustainable - The Progressive Europe We Want', at the ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, in Lisbon, Portugal, 8 December 2018. [Miguel A. Lopez/EPA/EFE]

Although it has not been committed to paper, EU leaders suggested that Bulgaria’s Sergei Stanishev, president of the Party of European Socialists, would be the president of the new European Parliament for the next 2.5 years, as part of a package agreed at the EU summit on Tuesday (2 July).

For the second half of the five-year mandate, the president is expected to be Manfred Weber, the unsuccessful German Spitzenkandidat of the EPP.

Stanishev’s inclusion in the package aimed at satisfying an unwritten requirement that Eastern Europe should be represented at one of the EU top positions.

Upon leaving the Council, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov made ironic remarks about the leadership of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the country’s main opposition force.

It is well known that BSP leader Kornelia Ninova has ideological differences with Stanishev, which is why Stanishev, the former BSP leader and now president of PES, is not even the head of the five-member Bulgarian BSP delegation in the European Parliament.

Stanishev loses leadership of European elections list to former partner

Sergei Stanishev may be the leader of the Party of European Socialists (PES), but his authority in his home country Bulgaria is under pressure.

“We will strongly support him [Stanishev]”, Borissov said, referring to the position of his six MEPs in the European Parliament.

“His party didn’t support him to be the leader of their EP delegation, but I voted for him [he then corrected himself], or more precisely, I said to all my colleagues [at the summit] who came to see me, that we would support him. A Bulgarian at such a high position is a question of honour and pride. Despite the fact that his own people don’t like him.”

Asked who proposed Stanishev, he said:

“This is the job of the European Parliament. It’s not our job.”

Asked again who proposed his name at the Council, he said:

“I cannot tell you. It wouldn’t be fair […] We don’t propose the European Parliament presidents. In the package, we only say what is for the socialists, what is for the EPP, what is for the Liberals.”

Asked by EURACTIV about Stanishev, Council President Donald Tusk said he wants to be “as delicate as possible” when commenting on the European Parliament top job.

“We know this is for the Parliament to decide on the names. Our intention is to have a president of the parliament from S&D for the first term, and a candidate from the EPP for the second term. But this is our political opinion. All of the leaders underlined that it is only for the Parliament to decide.”

EURACTIV sources say the news of Stanishev taking the parliament top job came as a big shock for the Bulgarian socialist MEPs and for the BSP leadership at home. Reportedly they see this move as a trick by Borissov to undermine their party.

The European Parliament is expected to chose its leader on Wednesday. Surprisingly, after the publication of this article, Strasbourg broke the news that the leader of the S&D group Iratxe García Pérez proposed Italian MEP from Partito Democratico David-Maria Sassoli as Parliament President.

Ultimately, Sassoli was elected as the S&D candidate for the Wednesday vote with a large majority against Klara Dobrev (Hungary). Stanishev wasn’t even proposed to compete with them.

The Parliament move might augur that MEPs could put at risk the entire package, agreed at the summit by the EU heads of state and government.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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