terça-feira, 6 de setembro de 2016
MEPs to confront Juncker on his support for Schulz
MEPs to confront Juncker on his support for Schulz
The Commission president’s own center-right allies are angry about his endorsement of the Socialist.
By MAÏA DE LA BAUME 9/7/16, 5:33 AM CET
Center-right members of the European Parliament plan to take Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to task next week over his recent endorsement of Socialist Martin Schulz for re-election as the assembly’s president, according to sources from the European People’s Party group.
Juncker is scheduled to hold an “exchange of views” with EPP members at their group meeting on September 14 in Strasbourg, after delivering his State of the Union speech to the full Parliament. It will be the first meeting of the group’s MEPs with Juncker — himself a member of the EPP — after he publicly backed Schulz in an interview published in the German magazine Der Spiegel in June.
“They will tell him [to] stop doing this,” said an EPP official who requested anonymity because he is not entitled to speak about the matter. “His comments made many MEPs uncomfortable.”
Juncker angered many MEPs when he told Der Spiegel that Schulz should stay on as Parliament president to provide “stability” in Europe. His comments contradicted the terms of a longstanding deal between the Parliament’s two main political groups that the presidency should pass to the center-right EPP in January 2017. Schulz himself agreed to the deal when he began his current term as president in 2014.
Juncker and Schulz are from different political parties but they are known to have very close personal ties, meeting regularly for strategy dinners with other EPP and Socialist group leaders.
The next Parliament president will be elected by MEPs in January for a two-and-a-half-year term lasting until the end of the current mandate. Schulz was the first president of the assembly ever to be re-elected for a second term, in July 2014.
Though the official presidential campaign has not started yet, sources said Schulz has been working behind the scenes for months to convince colleagues he should stay in his current job beyond the end of his agreed term, arguing that it is important not to let all three EU presidencies be held by center-right politicians (European Council President Donald Tusk is, like Juncker, a member of the EPP).
“President Schulz is focusing on the pressing issues the EU is confronted with,” said Giacomo Fassina, Schulz’s spokesperson. “A number of possible scenarios concerning his future are in the press but these amount to speculation.”
Names of potential candidates from the EPP, including France’s Alain Lamassoure, Italy’s Antonio Tajani and Ireland’s Mairead McGuinness, have been circulating for months. EPP sources also said that two other potential contenders, France’s Elisabeth Morin-Chartier and Françoise Grossetête, have now added their names to the list.
“We need Schulz to clarify his position first,” said Morin-Chartier, who didn’t confirm that she would run. “This is all too premature, there is no timetable. There are many names circulating, and the candidacies are not open yet.”
The EPP is expected to hold primary elections to choose its presidential nominee before MEPs elect the next president at a plenary session in January. Another EPP official said the primary election timetable would be discussed “in the coming weeks.”
The assembly’s other political groups can also choose nominees for the post, though small groups rarely do so as the president usually comes from one of the major parties.
“We still need to decide what our strategy will be,” said Philippe Lamberts, the c0-president of the Greens. “One of our major criteria would be to have a woman as president.”
“The candidate who will gain the Greens support will not fear confronting other institutions on substantial topics, and will apply the rules of the European Parliament with a certain neutrality,” he said.
Sticking to the agreement
Other sources in the Greens said they would reject another term for Schulz.
Since no political group holds a majority of parliamentary seats, winning the election requires a coalition — hence the agreement between the EPP and center-left Socialists and Democrats group to take turns holding the presidency, with each group supporting the other’s candidate.
A spokesperson for the EPP’s leader in the Parliament, German MEP Manfred Weber, said Tuesday that the party would stick to the agreement to take over the presidency in 2017.
“Juncker has been informed of the EPP group’s position,” an EPP official said.
Parliament sources said the most credible EPP candidate appears to be Lamassoure, who has been a European affairs minister, a government spokesman, a member of the European Convention, as well as a longtime member of the European Parliament.
Lamassoure also headed the Parliament’s Luxleaks committee, which investigated preferential tax deals for multinational companies.
“Lamassoure is very respected, and even by the Socialists and Greens,” another EPP official said. “His committee on tax fraud did a very good job, that kind of policy was a consensual policy and it’s very rare that they find consensus. He was a leading force in all of this. He does have a stately presidential profile.”
McGuinness, who is also one of the assembly’s vice-presidents, “is in a constant campaign,” the source said. “She’s very presidential. All the signs are there, she’s always in the limelight in the EP, she doesn’t attack other party groups, she is very consensual.”
Tajani may have a tougher time in the primary because he has been forced to defend role as the EU commissioner for industry from 2010 to 2014 in connection with the Dieselgate scandal, which revealed that Volkswagen, the world’s biggest carmaker, had been cheating on its diesel emissions tests.
Tajani, who oversaw the Commission’s interactions with the car industry before re-joining Parliament, appeared at a hearing on Dieselgate on Monday. He said he had never received any information about possible emission test “defeat devices” in cars.
But he came in for harsh criticism from MEPs. “Commissioner Tajani ignored growing warnings, including a letter from his colleague, former Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik, that car companies could be using defeat devices to cheat emissions tests,” Seb Dance, a British MEP from the Socialists and Democrats, wrote in a statement following the hearing.