[WATCH] Socialists will not give up European Parliament presidency without a fight

S&D President: No group is entitled to the presidency of the parliament as such. We don’t have to yield the presidency, because it does not belong to any political party

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola with EP president David Sassoli
Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola with EP president David Sassoli
Socialists will not give up European Parliament presidency without a fight

Europe’s socialist MEPs will not give up the presidency to the European Parliament without any concessions from the European People’s Party, as a mid-term rotational deal approaches.

The EPP will decide on Wednesday evening which candidate it will present to take over the European Parliament presidency from Italian MEP David Sassoli, in January 2022.

Maltese MEP and vice-president Roberta Metsola is one of three candidates, the other being Dutch MEP Esther de Lange and Austrian MEP Othmar Karas.

But S&D president Iratxe Gaarcia Perez today warned that the socialists would be demanding political balance inside the European institutions.

“No group is entitled to the presidency of the parliament as such. We don’t have to yield the presidency, because it does not belong to any political party – rather, it’s a decision taken by the parliament as a whole, and that’s the basis on which we will operate. Clearly, we’ll be demanding political balance.”

Sassoli was elected to the House presidency in 2019 as part of a ‘rotational’ deal to have socialists take the presidency for the first half of the legislature.

“According to the agreement with which we stated, we had then balance across the European institutitons,” Garcia Perez said, referring to a German from the EPP family – Ursula von Der Leyen as Commission president – and Charles Michel, a Belgian from the Renew group appointed as Council president.

“The situation has not changed over the last two years, and the S&D has significant clout and force across Europe in national governments as well as in this parliament,” the Spanish MEP said.

“We are amenable to negotiations... because we wish to guarantee political balance across the European institutions.”

The outgoing EPP head Manfred Weber thanked Sassoli for his work during the COVID-19 pandemic, but said his group expected the S&D to respect the rotational deal.

“Sassoli should get respect for what he did in this difficult period of time but we agreed in the beginning of the mandate that in the second part of these five years, the EPP can have the right to present a candidate and we want to be part of a team,” Weber said.

“The EPP is ready to negotiate... we will nominate a very reasonable, very strong candidate for leading this institution together with all the other political families.”

Weber warned against any “party-political competition” on the presidency, saying this could harm the EP’s legislative work ahead. “It will harm the Fit For 55 package, the digital agenda... I  want to start in January together with the French presidency with an initiative to deliver... my appeal to the other political families is: let’s keep our agreement from the beginning, let’s be reasonable and let’s work on content and not on party-political competition.

The Left’s co-president Manon Aubry also announced her group will be putting forward a candidate, while the Greens’ co-president Ska Keller said her group will be seeking commitment from candidates on transparency, and the greater involvement of all groups.

“We’ll be fully involved in the debate. We have very good people in our group who could be candidates... and we want some stuff to change in the EP.”

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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