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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The next Commission President?

European Commissioner Viviane Reding
European Commissioner Viviane Reding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Euractiv jostling for the nomination for the next European Commission President has begun. As the next President will be picked based on the who is the largest party in the next European Parliament, elected in 2014, it will be a contest between European People’s Party, EPP, (currently the largest party) and the Party of European Socialists ,PES, the next largest party, who sit as the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the Parliament.

For the EPP, Viviane Reding of Luxembourg, who is the currnet Vice President of the European Commission and is the Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. According for Euractiv sources she has begun campaigning for the position ahead of the EPP choosing its candidate ahead of the next election.

Reding is regarded as a bit of a shoe-in for the job, she has been a commissioner since 1999 and before that she was an MEP between 1989 and 1999. She has served in the following positions on the European Commission

  • Commissioner for Education and Culture (1999-2004)
  • Commissioner for Information Society and Media (2004-2010)
  • Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (2010 -Present)

She could be a very good candidate for the EPP and could be the first female President of the Commission.

For the PES, Martin Schulz of Germany, is positioning himself for the position. Schulz is currently the President of the European Parliament so would have a strong support base among PES/S&D MEPs. He was elected President in January 2012. He is an MEP since 1994. He led the PES group between 2004 and 2012.

Reding v Schulz could be the theme of the 2014 European Elections.