The Brief: Are old socialists cowards or just still in love with EPP?

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Cooperation of the so-called progressive political forces has lately been the new mantra for the EU socialists.

After they lost all contact with the EU society, they successfully broke the European Parliament’s “Grand Coalition” with the center-right European People’s Party.

They have also pledged to return to their ideological roots, as they claim, by cooperating with the leftists and the Greens.

In theory. Because in reality, they are either reluctant to take the progressive leap or they remain, at least some of them, stuck with the EPP marriage.

Last week was a good test for the socialists. Greek premier Alexis Tsipras said his leftist party was ready to open a dialogue of cooperation with the progressive political forces in the country.

The reply of Pasok (Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement) was short and clear: “Not even with a gun pointed at our head”. I asked several S&D MEPs to comment on Pasok’s stance but they preferred not to be outspoken as usual and kept their distance.

I remember S&D chief in Parliament Gianni Pittella was very angry with Tsipras when the latter decided to partner with the right-wing Independent Greeks and not the “progressive forces” in the country, like S&D member Pasok.

Only S&D Vice-President Knut Fleckenstein replied and said: “It is up to my Greek friends in Pasok to decide about this […] but my general view is: Wherever possible, Progressives should cooperate to build a more powerful alternative to conservative approaches and against right-wing nationalism in Europe”.

More diplomatic was PES President Sergei Stanishev, who preferred to attack the EPP. I mean the real EPP, not the socialists EPP members.

“The Party of European Socialists has a much more democratic structure than, for example, the EPP. In our political family, important decisions are not made by the president or by the leaders of the most influential countries.”

The divorce with the EPP might have broken some hearts in the socialist family.

However, a potential divorce with those socialists who are stuck in the past will be more painful for some lawmakers, but it will also be a chance for EU citizens to see a structured and concrete alternative.

They were active in the creation of the economic crisis and are inactive in finding the way out.

The Roundup

In a move that will resonate among Europe’s biofuel producers, European Parliament’s environment, food and health committee urged the Commission to keep the sustainable biofuels in the EU energy mix, while distinguishing between good and bad biofuels.

British companies operating in the EU will be “begging on their knees” for the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after Brexit, the Court’s president has warned.

In the wake of the latest hacker attacks, European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip told EURACTIV‘s Catherine Stupp the bloc will have to invest much more in cybersecurity and reinforce its cybersecurity agency, ENISA.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan went to Tokyo hoping to seal a long-awaited trade deal with Japan, possibly in time to sign it at next week’s G20 meeting in Hamburg.

Across the Channel, British Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly won a confidence vote in parliament on 29 June, managing to cling to power thanks to support from the small ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

In Berlin, German parliament legalised same-sex marriages, even though Chancellor Merkel voted against the proposal.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has pledged to meet the EU’s budget deficit target of 3% of GDP by cutting spending rather than raising taxes. The promise came after a public accounts watchdog said urgent action was necessary.

Zoran Radosavljevic contributed to this Brief.

Look out for…

Estonia takes over the presidency from Malta on 1 July, with an ambitious digital, security and environmental agenda.

G20 meeting in Hamburg on 7-8 July.

Views are the author’s.

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