Crowley set to join ECR

European_Conservatives_and_Reformists_logoIreland South MEP Brian Crowley, Fianna Fails sole MEP, is set to announce that he will be leaving the liberal ALDE Group in the European Parliament and instead will join the European Conservatives and Reformists according to Press Reports today.

If this does happen it will put in doubt Fianna Fails membership of the pan-European ALDE Party to which the party leader, Michael Martin is firmly in favour of.

Crowley’s decision to join ECR will mean that Irish MEPs are now spread across 5 European Parliament Groups.

  • EPP: 4 MEPs (Fine Gael)
  • GUE/NGL: 4 MEPs (3 Sinn Fein, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan)
  • ALDE: 1 MEP (Marian Harkin)
  • ECR: 1 MEP (Brian Crowley)
  • S&D: 1 MEP (Nessa Childers)

With Crowley joining the ECR they are now represented in 15 countries. The UK (Conservatives) and Poland (Law and Justice) make up the largest delegations with 20 and 19 respectively and the rest of the group made of MEPs from Belgium (4), Bulgaria (1), Czech Republic (2), Denmark (4), Germany (8), Greece (1), Croatia (1), Latvia (1), Lithuania (1), Netherlands (2), Slovakia (2) and Finland (2).

Crowleys transfer also solidifies ECR as the 3rd largest group in the parliament with 69 seats and pushing ALDE back to 66.

It will be interesting to see now what happens to Fianna Fails membership of the ALDE Party and how often Crowley will be voting with his colleagues.

 

The New European Parliament

eu flagsFollowing last month’s European Elections the European Parliament will meet on July 1st to constitute itself and elect its new President. Most commentators expect that the two largest groups, the European People’s Party and the Socialist and Democrats, will continue their alliance and split the presidency again between them.

So how did the groups fair? 

The European Parliament now consists of 751 MEPs down 15 from the 766 MEPs in the last parliament. There has been some changes of Group compositions with newly elected parties and independents joining groups and some parties changing groups. The Groups now stand as follows:

  • EPP: 221 (-53)
  • S&D: 191 (-4)
  • ECR: 63 (+7)
  • ALDE: 59 (-26)
  • Greens/EFA: 54 (-4)
  • GUE/NGL: 52 (+17)
  • EFD: 32 (-1)
  • NI: 79

In Ireland Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein have remained with their respective groups (EPP, S&D & GUE/NGL) and Independent Marian Harkin has also remained with ALDE.

Independent Nessa Childers has been readmitted to the S&D Group ensuring they are represented in every member state after Labour’s wipe-out at the elections. Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagen has joined Sinn Fein in the GUE/NGL group. The Socialist Party failed to retain it’s MEP.

That means the groups stand as follows in the Irish Delegation:

  • EPP: 4 (-)
  • S&D: 1 (-2)
  • ALDE: 2 (-2)
  • GUE/NGL: 4 (+4)

Commission President – Parliament v European Council

After electing the President and 14 Vice Presidents of the Parliament the next task will be voting for the European Commission President. While the EPP and S&D leadership are backing Jean Claude-Juncker they dont have complete control of their groups. With UK Labour opposing Junker’s candidacy, neither party can afford to lose support on this vote.

  • Needed for a Majority: 376
  • EPP + S&D: 412
  • EPP + S&D -UKLab: 392

16 votes would be quite close. But of course Junker will have to emerge as the European Council Nominee first, a battle in itself, before any such vote will take place in the European Parliament.

Eurovision Debate, 20:00 GMT. #TellEurope

ED_EBUMembers_logosThe Eurovision Debate takes place tonight at 8pm GMT, 9pm CET across Europe tonight. No this is not a debate on the Eurovision Song Contest but a debate organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) between the candidates for the post of European Commission President.

Who’s taking part?

5 candidates are taking part in the debate. They are

  • Ska Keller, European Greens
  • Alexis Tsipras, European Left Party
  • Guy Verhofstadt, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe
  • Jean-Claude Junker, European Peoples Party
  • Martin Schulz, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

The debate will be for 90 minutes and will be moderated by RAI anchor Monica Maggioni. RTÉ’s Conor McNally will be presenting the Social Media aspect of the debate which will be broadcast across 25 countries.

So where can you watch this debate?

Well you wont find it on RTÉ 1 or BBC 1.

The following are showing the debate on TV in English speaking countries (Full list of broadcasters here (PDF))

  • Cable Public Affairs, Canada
  • RTÉ Now News, Ireland
  • BBC Parliament, UK
  • Euronews, International

It can also be viewed on the Eurovision Debate website and followed online with the hastag #TellEurope

Not exactly expecting rating winners are they? Well whatever the viewer-ship, I for one will be watching, will you?

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European Parliament Elections 2014 – Commission President

One of the big outcomes (supposedly!) from this years European Parliament Elections will be the nominated by the winning European Parliament Grouping in the Elections. While some believe this will lead to deadlock and confrontation, other believe it is the start of a truly democratic European Union.

So who are the European Parties nominating?

Party of European Socialists (PES)

The PES had a great idea of a Europe wide primary among its member parties, but in the end this didn’t happen as only one candidate was nominated, that being the current President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz of the Germany’s SPD. While this has annoyed a number of activists, it has prevented a possible long drawn out campaign.

European People’s Party (EPP)

The EPP will open its nominations for the Commission President Candidate on February 13th and they close on March 5th before being selected at their Congress in Dublin on March 6th and 7th (Full Details here). A number of names have been mentioned including former head of the European Group and former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker. Though it is thought that Germany’s Angela Merkel is against his appointment and would prefer either Poland’s Donald Tusk or Ireland’s Enda Kenny to be the EPP’s nomination.

Another possible candidate is Viviane Reding the current Commissioner responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

The ALDE Party (formerly ELDR)

The newly renamed ALDE Party is set to name its Candidate at a special conference in Brussels on February 1st. This is set to be a showdown between current Economic Commissioner Olli Rehn of Finland and the leader of the ALDE Group Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium. It will be interesting to see who will be victorious.

European Green Party

The European Green Party has embraced the internet and is allowing anyone who agrees with their policies to vote for their Candidate in an online Primary. You can vote for two out of the four candidates. The Candidates include José Bové of France, Monica Frassoni of Italy, Rebecca Harms of Germany and Ska Keller also of Germany. If you want to vote head on over to GreenPrimary.eu

European Left Party

The European Left Party last month nominated Alexis Tsipras leader of the Greek SYRIZA party to be its candidate in the elections. This is interesting as SYRIZA is the only party of the European Left Party to be leading in the polls in its home country. Its highly unlikely that Tsipras will be European Commission President, the next Greek Prime Minister on the other hand…

The other possible candidates include Maire Le Pen leading a European Far Right grouping (or maybe Nigel Farage?) and a possible European Conservatives and Reformist candidate, no names have emerged from that grouping.

It will be an interesting one to watch.

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ELDR Party Changes name to ALDE Party.

 

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the recent European Liberal Democrats Congress in Dublin, the delegates voted to change the name to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe Party (ALDE) to match its grouping in the European Parliament.

Sir Graham Watson MEP, President of the ALDE Party, said: “In 2004, other centrist forces joined with ELDR MEPs to form the ALDE Group in the European Parliament. Today, we create one Party to provide a home at EU level for all these forces and more.”

Guy Verhofstadt MEP, leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, said: “It makes sense for the ALDE Group in the European Parliament to be reflected in an ALDE Party, uniting the EU’s centrist forces under one umbrella.”

Fianna Fail is the Irish member of the ALDE Party (its going to take a while to get used to calling it that). The ALDE Party have 75 members in the European Parilment who join 10 other MEP’s (including Marian Harkin of Ireland-North West) to form the ALDE Group in the Parliament.

Their new website is aldeparty.eu

 

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ELDR Launch Individual Memebership

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The European Liberal, Democratic and Reform Party have today launched an individual membership system for the European party. Now you no longer need to be a member of a National Party to be a member of the ELDR.

for €25 a year you can become an associate member and you will get the following benefits:

  • An Associate membership card,
  • Home delivery of the quarterly ELDR newspaper,
  • The ELDR electronic newsletter.
  • Personalised invitations for selected events.
  • Furthermore, associate members will be able to participate and be a candidate in online elections that will select the delegate(s) representing associate members at the yearly ELDR Congress.

“Direct participation is all about nourishing the quality of future democracy. And with this initiative ELDR would like to add flesh to the bones to what was introduced in 1992 by the Maastricht Treaty: the European citizenship” commented Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, President of the ELDR Party.

“Associate Membership for individuals – Neyts-Uyttebroeck added – is a sign of support to the European liberal values of freedom and individual responsibility, democracy and the rule of law, respect for human rights and tolerance”.

Of course to be a member you cannot be a member of any national political party that itself belongs to any other European political party other than the ELDR Party.

This is an interesting idea from the ELDR. It will do two things for them. One create a possible cash flow and secondly create a a grouping that will work for them outside of the framework of the national parties. I wonder will other European parties follow their lead.

Roche Re-elected ELDR VP

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Irish Minister for Europe, Dick Roche, has been re-elected as one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Liberal Democratic and Reform Party at its recent congress in Helsinki. He was originally elected last November at the ELDR’s congress in Barcelona.

He was elected with 67% of the vote. The other Vice Presidents Elected were Graham Watson, of the UK Liberal Democrats, former leader of the ALDE grouping of the European Parliament and Vesna Pusic of the Croatian People’s Party – Liberal Democrats (HNS-LD). Vesna is the Parliamentry Floor leader of the HNS-LD.

I wonder will Roche keep going for this position?

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Germany 2011

250px-ESC_2011_Germany.svg

On Saturday night, European Televoters and Juries voted Germany the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2010. This is the second time in the History of Eurovision that German of won the contest, see a history on escireland.com.

It now falls to the German broadcaster ARD to host the contest next year.

Throughout the voting on Saturday night many comments were passed about the fact that Europe was rewarding Germany for bailing them out and to the fact that Germany was probably the only country able to afford the Eurovision Song Contest!

In my own view, I loved the German entry from the first time I heard it. Satellite is an amazing song and Lena is an excellent singer with raw talent! So we are off to Germany next year! Hopefully I will be there!

On the Irish entry, I agree with Diarmy.

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Roche, ELDR Vice President

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As well as the appointments made by the European Council last night (more on that later), another recent appointment has come to my knowledge. Dick Roche, the current Minister for Europe, has been made a Vice-President of the European Liberal Democratic and Reform Party (ELDR) . From what I am hearing, a lot of people are not happy about this.

Pat Cox, the former President of the ELDR is not a happy man from what I hear, and the youth wing LYMEC (who I have blogged previously about here) are also not a happy bunch. LYMEC are actually threatening to vote en masse against anything Fianna Fail put forward at ELDR Congress (which is currently ongoing in Barcelona) meaning that nothing Fianna Fail want will happen.The Dutch Liberals, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) I think (It could be D66) are not happy with the appointment either.

Fianna Fail don’t seem to making many friends in the ELDR or ALDE. This is the second time this month they have annoyed other members. I wonder how long they will last as Liberals?

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Fianna Fail and the Liberals

Things aren’t looking so good for the Fianna Fail Party in their new Grouping in the European Parliament. At the last plenary session they caused hassle by abstaining on a vote on a resolution by the ALDE, Green and Socialist groups on media freedoms, this caused the vote to be lost. This has causd huge anger in the ALDE grouping.

Reports are also surfacing that the Fianna Fail MEP’s tried to scupper a resolution on Gay Rights emerging from the Liberal Grouping. This just goes to show how “liberal” Fianna Fail really are.

Brian Cowen too is facing pressure from within the Liberal Grouping of the ELDR. The ELDR currently only have 4 heads of Government on the European Council, and Cowen’s support for Tony Blair and possible support for John Bruton, is not sitting well with the ELDR leadership.

Fianna Fail have found themselves between a rock and a hard place on this occasion. Will they toe the Liberal line, or will they continue to annoy their “allies” and do their own thing. I can’t see Guy Verhostadt keeping his cool with them for too long.

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