So, the results are in and the European Parliament has a new President in the form of David Sassoli, a MEP from Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party. Sassoli, of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the Parliament will serve for two and a half years, then a MEP from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) will pick up the baton. The S&D is the second-largest group, the EPP the largest, and so the mill-wheel of parliament keeps democracy flowing along.
Sassoli is well-kent in his native Italy, where he cut his teeth in journalism before making the switch to politics. In his role as Vice-President during the previous mandate, he was well-liked and respected by his colleagues. As he said in the chamber: “the EU can only be strong when the European Parliament is strong.” We couldn’t agree more.
In the bigger picture, we also have nominees for the EU’s other big posts. Crucially, head of the Commission. The nominee is German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen, a close ally of Angela Merkel and – if elected by the European Parliament week after next – the first-ever female Commission President. While some might say von der Leyen is a bit too forthright but perhaps that’s exactly what the Commission needs: she memorably described Vote Leave as a “burst bubble of hollow promises… inflated by populists” and noted “They had promised that Britain would benefit from Brexit” and that a No-Deal Brexit would be “the worst possible start” for negotiating the future UK-EU relationship.”
Despite what the Brexit Party have been alleging, von der Leyen will not become President until she has been approved by both the democratically elected heads of Government in the European Council and by a majority of Members of the European Parliament. The process may not be simple, but it is democratic unlike the imminent ‘election’ of Britain’s new Prime Minister!
It’s been a busy week and remarkably only Christian and Aileen’s first formal week as MEPs. There’s a lot of work still do,
Your SNP European Group,
Alyn, Christian and Aileen
P.S. We would all pay tribute to David Martin who had his final day as a MEP this week. David has been a MEP for 35 years and been a fantastic representative of Scotland. We all wish him the best for the future.
It’s worth keeping the comments of the Tory leadership contenders in perspective. Yes, they are both pandering to the members of the Conservative party, but they are also selling themselves as a Prime Minister. This week, Jeremy Hunt, in a bid to rid himself of any image he had for being sensible, announced that if a No-Deal Brexit caused people to lose their jobs and businesses to go bankrupt, it would be worth it.
Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have also emphasised again that upon becoming Prime Minister they will immediately attempt the impossible and try to remove the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement.
Amazingly, it seems that Theresa May didn’t trust Boris when he was Foreign Secretary.
Beth Rigby, political editor of Sky News, has written a scathing piece that says both the contenders inhabit a fantasy world of Brexit unicorns and magic money trees.
You can read about the outcome of this week’s European council meeting, at which Ursula von der Leyen was nominated.
All the events in Strasbourg this week have been summed up here.
Alyn has been recording some short videos answering questions from people tweeting #AlynExplains including this one explaining the office arrangements and the now-infamous MEP iPads.
All of us attended a demonstration outside the Strasbourg Parliament in solidarity with our Catalan colleagues.
Finland’s Europe Minister, Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP), has said that the Finns aim to keep a firm focus on climate change during their presidency and that she hopes Brexit doesn’t overshadow that.
Canada has refused to ‘roll over’ the trade deal it has with the EU to Britain should the UK leave without a deal.
Confused about the Court of Justice of the European Union? Here is a handy guide to what it does.
UK manufacturing had its worst month in six years.
And finally, speaking of a lack of democracy, Liam Fox appeared before the International Trade Committee of the House of Commons and said “we are able to carry out the three main functions of the Trade Bill without that legislation passing.” In the event of a No-Deal Brexit, the UK Government will just act without Parliament as it sees fit. However you cut it, this is not taking back control.