July 15. 2024. 6:41

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EU Socialists’ in-house negotiations and the future of Parliament’s presidency


In today’s edition

  • Here’s what we know about the ongoing negotiations in the Socialists’ group, and what that means for the European Parliament presidency.
  • Bits of the week: Volt picks Greens over Renew’s soft hand with far-right; the three radical-right groups taking shape; Hungary’s new opposition says no to weapons for Ukraine; Greens’ and EPP’s old-new leadership.

While pushing back against the moves to hoard most top EU jobs by the election-winners, the centre-right EPP, European Socialists are simultaneously rushing to clean their own house and rearrange the internal balance of power in their European Parliament group to reflect the election results.

After five years of the Spanish Socialist delegation at the top of the S&D group, the election results put the Italians on top with 21 seats, one more than the Spaniards. In practice, this means that the Italians have the ‘legitimacy’ to claim the presidency of the group, so far held by Spanish MEP Iratxe García Pérez.

But it is not that easy.

As negotiations between all S&D members are ongoing, the Spaniards are fighting tooth and nail to keep their boss in power. It is also unclear whether the Italians even want that top job, as they could aim at different prizes, such as powerful committee chairmanships, a Parliament vice-presidency or, most importantly, half of the mandate of the Parliament president, expected to be awarded to the Socialists.

“Iratxe has an excellent relationship with the leader of the Partito Democratico, Elly Schlein, and she is working for the unity of the S&D and for the group’s presidency to have the majority support of the group,” a source close to García told Euractiv.

In fact, talking to many S&D insiders, the general view is that the group chairmanship will likely remain in the hands of the Spaniards. Calls of interest for candidates are already open, the final election is on 25 June.

The German Socialists and French Socialists are also playing a major role in determining who gets what, as the third and fourth biggest delegations.

While the French are emboldened with their big wins, rising from seven seats to 13 seats, the Germans have dropped from 16 to 14 seats and are keeping a lower profile.

“Iratxe Garcia has every right to be reappointed, given the work she has done,” French MEP Thomas Pellerin-Carlin told Euractiv.

But he also made clear the French are open to fresh proposals: “If an Italian candidate comes forward, we will look at what is being proposed and the projects that are being put forward.”

The French support will come with a price tag, however, as they expect to land two top jobs within the Parliament.

First, they hope to place their lead candidate Raphaël Glucksmann in an influential position related to defence as he “has the legitimacy to represent the European Parliament’s position on defence issues” Pellerin-Carlin said.

Second, they are also pushing to get one of the S&D vice-presidencies. Christophe Clergeau has already submitted his official candidacy, as per a letter seen by Euractiv, arguing that “we are happy to contribute to the strengthening of our political family [with the new French seats]”.

“Our first challenge must be to improve our collective functioning in order to have more impact and be more efficient in an even more right-leaning Parliament where victories will be harder to achieve than before,” Christophe Clergeau continued in his letter, warning that the Socialists must prevent internal rifts.

The European Parliament presidency question

The centre-right European People’s Party group nominated incumbent Parliament President Roberta Metsola for a second term on Wednesday. While the first 2.5 years of the mandate seem set to go to the centre-right, the second half is still unclear.

Before the election, it seemed the post was likely for the Socialists, specifically to German leading MEP Katarina Barley. However, she dismissed such an option after her party’s dismal election results in June.

Another option now could be for the Italian Socialists to claim the post if they do not get the group presidency.

However, the second half of the Parliament president’s mandate may not be for the Socialists after all.

Emboldened by their big win in the EU election, being once again the first force by far, with 190 seats, the EPP has started demanding a bigger piece of the pie when it comes to the EU’s top jobs.

During an EU leaders summit on Monday, the EPP asked to have the second half of the European Council presidency, initially supposed to go to the Socialists.

With the pushback from the Socialists, the EPP may well change their mind and argue in favour of having the full five-year presidency of the Parliament instead.


Bits of the week

Volt picks Greens, to be confirmed on Sunday. The five newly elected MEPs of the pan-European federalist party Volt, two from the Netherlands and three from Germany, prefer staying in the Greens rather than jumping ship for the liberal Renew Europe group. Volt members have until Sunday night to vote on it.

…because of Renew’s soft hand. “An important factor is the fact that ANO (a populist Czech party) and VVD (supporting a right-wing populist government in the Netherlands) are facing almost no repercussions in the Renew group,” German Volt MEP Damian Boeselager told Euractiv.

Did you want a far-right supergroup? Here are three small ones. The hard-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group welcomed new members on Wednesday, now becoming the third biggest force in the European Parliament. One of the newcomers is the Romanian far-right AUR, bringing in five MEPs.

Their entry has killed any hopes for the entry of Fidesz in ECR, due to a long-lasting conflict between the two concerning the Hungarian minority in Romania.

“Fidesz will never share a faction with such a party in the European Parliament. This is non-negotiable!” the party posted on X. Such a move kills the idea of a united supergroup comprising the ECR and far-right ID groups – floated in recent months.

…Fidesz to ID? Sources within ECR confirmed that the group was well aware of the consequences of accepting AUR: “It is what it is.”

Fidesz had sought to join ECR since February, despite heavy backlash from some current members, who threatened to quit the group if Viktor Orbán’s party joined. Instead, Fidesz is poised to join the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group.

The latest rumours suggest that Poland’s PiS could quit ECR to work alongside Orbán and Le Pen, as the party leadership in the past has stated they sought closer cooperation with them.

Also, there may be a growing gap between PiS and Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia, the leaders of ECR.

“[Meloni] wants to take control of the ECR group and, instead of being in opposition to the mainstream, enter into a coalition with the EPP,” PiS MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski complained on X, adding that Meloni is trying to get a top job for herself “without asking other national delegations for their opinion”.

…Germany’s AfD ultimate deal to form own group. While the initial plan of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) following the election was to pave the way to rejoin the ID by excluding their own lead candidate, Maximilian Krah, from their ranks, the party has now opted to work towards creating its own group instead, multiple party sources told Euractiv.

The deal could be ready as early as Tuesday next week, and there are ongoing negotiations with nine different parties, Euractiv understands.

Centre-right and Greens appoint group chairs, uncontested. On Wednesday, German MEP Manfred Weber was reappointed to chair the Parliament’s biggest group, the European People’s Party, alongside 10 vice-chairs. There were no other contenders. Weber’s reelection was widely expected, as the German CDU/CSU remains the largest delegation in the group.

On the same day, the Greens/EFA group also appointed its new co-chairs, also uncontested.

While incumbent German Green MEP Terry Reintke leads the biggest national party within the group, Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout is the leader of GroenLinks, a party that, in a joint list with the Dutch Socialists (PvdA), is praised for having managed to fend off the governing far-right PVV in the EU election with eight seats in total, compared to the six for PVV.

Hungarian opposition won’t send weapons to Ukraine. Talking to journalist, new Hungarian opposition leader Peter Magyar said on Wednesday he supports the line of the Hungarian government: “We will not send troops or weapons to Ukraine from Hungary.”

On the same day, Magyar announced that he will lead the Hungarian opposition from Brussels as an MEP, despite earlier pledging to step down and return to Budapest, Magnus Lund Nielsen writes.


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Read more with Euractiv

German far-right give up on ID to form own parliamentary group

German far-right give up on ID to form own parliamentary group

The German far-right AfD has set its eyes on creating its own parliamentary group, abandoning plans to seek readmission into the Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament.

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