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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The next Irish Commissioner

Pat Cox
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There was an article in last night’s Evening Echo (Not online) that basically suggested that it is a two horse race for the Irish Nomination to the new EU Commission in the Autumn. They are tipping Pat Cox or John Bruton to be the nominatee.

The rationale behind this is that they are both heavy hitters. Cox is a previous leader of the ALDE Group of the Parliament as well as being a former President of the European Parliament. Bruton is the current EU Ambassador to the US as well as being a former Taoiseach. If the Government nominate Cox or Bruton Ireland could nearly be assured of one of the big portfolios in the next commission.

In terms of outsiders to this, I can’t see the Government appointing a sitting TD as they really do not want to face into two by elections. Eoin Ryan features on the Paddy Power website as a possibility, as does Maire Geoghan Quinn.

I have a feeling though Cox will be the nominee especially as Fianna Fail is now in the ALDE and ALDE would like one of their own to be the Irish nominee not someone from the EPP family.

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They Changed their Name Again!

Party of European Socialists
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So the PES, which were going to be called ASDA ASDE decided to choose a different again. This time they have gone with Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats or PASD for short. Not sure what that looks like yet….

So the PASD will be the second largest grouping in the Parliament. It is the offical name change as now their website even has it.

So the Groups in the Parliament will be the (in order of size):

  • EPP (they dropped the ED part)
  • PASD (formerly PES)
  • ALDE
  • ECRG
  • Greens-EFA
  • EUL-NGL
  • Ind/Dem
  • UEN

The Ind/Dem (17) and UEN (13) groupings may survive. I don’t know yet though. We will find out for sure on July 14th at the first plenary in Strasbourg.

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ECRG Down to the Minimum – Already?

It looks like the European Conservatives and Reformists Group is in a bit of bother today due to decision of Finnish MEP Hannu Takkula to remain in the ALDE grouping according to NewsRoom Finland. Jon Worth thinks “some people in the party [Finnish Centre Party] must have applied pressure” on him to remain in the ALDE.

This leaves the ECRG at the bare minimum of representation with MEPs from 7 member states. On Monday there were talks of other MEPs joining. Currently there is talk that Lithuanian MEP Waldemar Tomaszewski of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania is joining the ECRG so they could be back up to 8 member states quite quickly.

They do need a buffer to allow for MEPs to leave so that they could survive as a grouping. I don’t think they thought they would need the buffer so early.

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Okay, so we know all the Groupings?

With the anouncement today of the new conservative grouping in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECRG), we now know all the Groupings in the Parliament.

They are (in order of size) (PS not sure im numbers are correct):

  • European People’s Party – 266
  • Party of European Socialists – 161
  • Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – 80
  • European Conservatives and Reformists – 55
  • Greens-European Free Alliance – 53
  • Union for Europe of the Nations – 35
  • United Left-Nordic Greens – 32
  • Independence/Democracy – 18
  • Non-Inscrits – 38

So it looks like the Parliament will be dominated by the centre right. The BNP failed to get enough MEPs.

Its going to be an interesting five years in Brussels/Strasbourg.

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Deadlock in the New Parliament?

Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt.
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The newly elected Parliament looks set to become deadlocked over the nomination of the next European Commission President.

Jose Manual Barrosso has the backing of the EPP, and thats about it. The new European Conservative grouping could be persuaded to back him too. I doubt they could persuade Ind/Dem to back him publicly but they may vote for him.

The other candidate Guy Verhofstadt has the backing of GUE/NGL, Greens-EFA, PES ASDE and ALDE.

Unfortunatley neither side have a majority in the Parliament.

This could mean a very long summer of talking and such to try and cobble together a majority or it could mean a compromise candidate with which no one will be 100% happy with.

Now I’m not sure if I want to see Barrosso re-elected. I have read a few things lately from him that I wasn’t happy reading.

Now I’m not sure if I want Verhofstadt elected either, mainly as hes a leftist candidate.

Its going to be a long summer, and I don’t think I’ll be happy with who ever is elected President of the Commission. I wonder will the Parliament feel the same?

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PES Name Change?

Party of European Socialists
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So the new European Parliament is going to be a bit of an Alphabet soup. According to The Lobby blog the Party of European Socialist Grouping in the Parliament is going to change its name to the “Alliance of Socialists and Democrats” or ASDE for short (Not to be confused with ASDA). So why the change?

The name change is to suit the Italian Partito Democratico who in the last parliament where split between PES and ALDE. This will shore up the PES ASDE numbers by giving them 21 extra MEPs.

There was some opposition from some MEPs who didnt want to lose the Socialist branding, but after the election results they look less likely to stick to their guns.

So the Groupings in the next parliament could be as follows:

  • EPP
  • ASDE
  • ALDE
  • Greens-EFA
  • GUE/NGL
  • Ind/Dem (maybe)
  • European Conservatives (Or similar name)
  • Far-Right grouping (BNP are trying to set up a grouping)
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It finally gets interesting: Barroso Vs Verhofstadt

I was giving out during the election campaign that the PES didnt have a candidate for Commission President. Despite the fact the PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen wants the job, its looking highly unlikely that he will not be the PES nominee.

Instead the Greens, ALDE and PES look set to team up to try and get former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt elected as Commission President according to euractiv.com instead of  José Manuel Barroso. Verhofstadt’s party the Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (Flemish Liberals and Democrats) is part of the ALDE and looks set to be the their nominee.

This makes things interesting as the Commission President has to be elected by the European Parliament in a secret ballot. A combined vote of the PES, Green and ALDE grouping would be 294 votes, which is short of a majority.

Of course the ALDE is itself divided on the nomination as it is a small group it cannot hope to hold Commission President and Presidency of the European Parliament, which its leader Graham Watson wants.

Shuttle diplomacy is underway across European capitals to try and get support for nominations of both candidates, but it dosent look like Barroso’s re-election is assured as it was.

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FF and FG to be in coalition in Europe?

Negotiations are underway for the top jobs in Europe now that the results of the weekends elections are known.

The European Peoples Party (EPP), which Fine Gael is part of, has emerged as the largest party in the European Parliament with 263 seats. For a majority in the parliament 379 seats are needed.

The ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe), which Fianna Fail is part of, has 80 seats giving a combined ALDE-EPP link up of 343 seats. This is 36 seats short.

For getting Barosso elected it would be easy for the EPP and ALDE to link up with the new Conservative grouping and get a majority for that election.

The question is who will be President of the Parliament. According to Euractiv.com the EPP have suggested a grand coaltion of the EPP, ALDE and the Party of European Socialists (PES) which would have 505 seats in the Parliament.

Graham Watson of the ALDE wants to be President of the Parliament and there will be no shortage of candidates in the EPP and PES vying for the top job in the Parliament.

Normally the President is elected for two and half years and is shared between two grouping. Im not sure how its going to be shared among three groupings over five years?

Lets see how the negotiations go, but it will be strange to have Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in a coalition no?

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More EU Election stuff

Inside the {{w|European Parliament}} in {{w|St...
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Well I haven’t blogged since Monday and I apologise! But I may make up for it today! So I have found a few things relating to the EU elections.

First up is VoteMatch. Now I think its done by the same crowd who had the tool for the London Elections last year. This is based on the European Political Parties rather then the National Parties. You get asked to agree, disagree, neither with 30 statements and its gives you your match. My results are

  1. EPP
  2. ALDE
  3. PES
  4. Verts/ALE
  5. GUE/NGL
  6. ID

A good idea I think considering it will show which European Party you agree with. Check it out.

The other thing I found is called CandidateWatch. This is lauching on May 5th. What does it do?

Candidatewatch Ireland will allow you to question all Irish candidates in the forthcoming European Elections. Since all questions and answers are made public, you can follow up on promises after the elections.

It has been set up b ay German non-profit organisation called parlamentwatch.de and TASC, an. Irish think-tank. It is an interesting idea and could frame the online dialogue between candidates and voters. It will be forum based, so should be easy to use. I look forwward to the launch of this one.

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