Author: Aline Robert
Unlike the election of its new president on Tuesday (17 January), the appointment of the 14 European Parliament vice-presidents and five quaestors went smoothly and largely as expected this week (18 January).
The presidential election of Antonio Tajani needed four rounds to come to a satisfactory outcome, but ten vice-presidents were elected in the first round of voting, with the remaining four having to wait for a second round after failing to secure 310 votes, an absolute majority.
Many of the MEPs elected this time around continue in their role as vice-president from the first half of the Parliament’s mandate, including Sylvie Guillaume (Socialists and Democrats group).
An idea floated by leftist groups to “vote politically” rather than on the individual’s skill ultimately came to nothing.
Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness (European People’s Party) was also re-elected as vice-president and will succeed Antonio Tajani as first vice-president after topping the ballot. She received 88 more votes than the next best placed candidate.
Juncker and Tajani avoid confrontation
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was present at the Strasbourg plenary session and tried to cut off the new “opposition” that has cropped up in Parliament.
“The EPP group shouldn’t be a conservative group, but a Christian democrat group,” Juncker insisted, calling on the socialists to collaborate. “I want a form of cooperation with the pro-European forces of the Parliament so that we can help Europe move forward,” said Juncker who was the EPP candidate for the Commission presidency at the last European election.
Tajani, the new president, confirmed what had been said before his election, that he will not have a political agenda as the new Parliament chief and that he mostly sees himself as an institution official rather than a politician.
“I am president of the European Parliament. My position is very different to the one I held in the EPP group,” Tajani claimed, when asked about a tax evasion scandal that has rocked Malta’s government. Several Maltese ministers have been caught up in the Panama Papers affair, which Tajani personally denounced a few months ago.
The Parliament has also started to think about committee chairmanships and who will fill such influential positions. For now, changes most notably include a switch-out of the Transport Committee’s chairman, with the Greens putting forward French MEP Karima Delli as candidate.
Committee appointments have to be agreed by all the political groups before getting the stamp of approval.
Source: http://www.euractiv.com/ section/elections/news/ parliament-vice-presidents- election-goes-off-without- hitch/