Ambitious agendas are on the table. Will we also have an ambitious political leadership to achieve them?
9th legislature term 2019-2024 officially started
On 2 July the newly elected European Parliament was officially constituted and the term of the 9th legislature has started. At this elections, 751 Members of Parliament (MEPs) were elected from 190 political parties in 28 member states, with the higher percentage of the new MEPS (61%) and 3 % more women MEP representatives (final 40 %) as from the last elections in 2014 (37 %). Currently, the new Parliament consist of seven political groups, some of the MEPs are listed as non-aligned.
In the past weeks the political parties elected the new President of the European Parliament, David Maria Sassoli, an Italian MEP since 2009, who was re-elected also this year on a Partito Democratico list for a third term. His presidency of the European Parliament will run for two and a half year, until January 2022.
On 10th July, soon after the elections of the President of the European Parliament, all the Parliament’s 20 standing committees and two subcommittees held their constitutive meetings and elect their chair and vice chairs. More information on specific committee bureau and their representatives here.
Parliament elects the first woman to lead the European Commission with not much promising majority
On 16th July, the European Parliament confirmed Ursula von der Leyen as a new President of the European Commission with 383 members voted in favour, 327 against and 22 abstentions, a little more than 50 % of Parliaments members.
Ursula von der Leyen will take her office on 1 November 2019 for a five-year term. She was member of the German Bundestag since October 2009, following as Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and currently holding the position of Federal Minister of Defence since December 2013. Being a licensed physician, she also holds a degree in economics and medicine. She is married and has seven children.
As a new President-elect, she is less known political figure at European level and appeared unexpectedly as a new candidate from EPP political group, who was not taking part as a “Spitzenkandidat”, which costed many disagreements from different political groups at the European Parliament.
During the long lasting hearings at the plenary session in Strasbourg, Ursula von der Leyen presented her political guidelines for a five years term 2019-2024.
Climate action proposals and European green deal were not strong enough to convince all political groups to reach a higher majority support for European Commission candidacy
Putting carbon neutrality into law during the first 100 days, developing the transition fund and making EU executive leadership more flexible and inclusive with proposing the nomination of the two executive vice presidents, new President-Elect summarised the main political priorities of her presidency:
- A European Green Plan: towards reduction of 55 % of CO2 emissions by 2030, based on social, economic and environmental assessment.
- To facilitate the transition of the above-mentioned plan, she proposes a “Transition Plan” via Sustainable Europe investment Plan and new forms of climate bank. Therefore, she also wants to implement a carbon border tax and extend the Emissions Trading System.
- An economy that works for people with a special focus on private-public fund specialising in Initial Public Offerings of SMEs.
- A Europe that fits the digital age (legislation for a coordinated European approach on the human and ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence).
- Protecting European way of life (proposing the new Pact on Migration).
- A stronger position of EU in the world.
- A new push for European democracy (improving lead candidate system, more inclusive leadership).
Greens, the fourth largest political group remained unconvinced on the new President-Elect’s green agenda, which seems ambitious but with no concrete action tools how to reach them. At the same time, nationalists, populists and the centre right (EPP) party accused von der Leyen to seek too much consensus with progressive parties in the European Parliament.
On the other hand, progressive parties such as Socialists and Democrats (S&D) as a second largest political party were still unhappy on not putting forward one of the Parliament-approved Spitzenkandidaten as Commission President, which by their opinion clearly did not respect the “voice of voters”. At the same time, they wanted more concrete actions to tackle European democracy and details on how to respond to citizens’ demands. The representatives of the new “Renew Europe” political group - which is the successor of the ALDE group which existed from 2004 until 2019- welcomed her agenda and called for a real pro-European leadership. In addition to that, for the purpose of the European elections 2019, the Renew Europe gathered together ALDE and Macron’s “En Marche” political group which started under the new name for the 9th legislative term. The nomination of von der Leyen strengthens Macron’s position in Europe, which seems to be an excellent political move for Macron to continue his vision of European Union.
Therefore, Ursula’s initial political party EPP welcomed her political priorities and strived for innovative, fair and mostly ecological Europe.
Nationalists and populist parties had a common opinion on not seeing any convincing vision for Europe. Thus, welcoming new climate policies, increasingly ambitious targets, transition fund and a bank for sustainable investments, they are missing the concreate measures how to achieve all ambitious proposals.
What follows next…
Member states’ heads of governments will receive official letters by the Commission President-elect inviting them to send their official proposals for members of the Commission. Hearings of candidates will take place from 30 September to 8 October in the Parliament’s committees. The vote on the full College of Commissioners scheduled for mid-October. Once the European Commission is elected by the Parliament, the Commission will be formally appointed by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority. More information on selection procedures here.
Nevertheless, the arising questions, will Mrs von der Leyen be able to conquer hardly reached majority of support when it comes to seek the support for proposed policies? Will she be able to build bridges and make execute leadership as much inclusive? And the most important, will the new Commission’s presidency provide measures and tools to fully reach climate and energy targets and strengthen the European market to support various sectors through the energy and climate transition?
In the following months, the new president’s task will be forming together the Commission and as promised, to insist on candidates (appointed by the national governments) to fulfil her commitment of gender balanced Commission.
Stay tuned about which priorities will be on the political agenda, and impact policy developments regarding the HVAC and buildings sector.