Out of the 751 MEPs newly elected in May for five year terms, 371 are new to Parliament. The European Parliament is new and fragmented with three main consequences on EU policies:
- No experience yet of working together, which may slow down even more the legislative process;
- Previously ignored political groups may emerge and play an important role;
- Reaching a majority may be difficult. The absolute majority is 376 out of 751.
During the month of June, political groups met to negotiate and form new alliances. A political group must be made up of 25 MEPs from at least seven Member States. Each main political group designated a candidate for the European Commission presidency. According to the EU Treaty, the EPP (European People’s Party), as the winning party, was supposed to see its candidate, former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, endorsed by the EU Council, but EU leaders like Angela Merkel or David Cameron expressed doubts whether this was a binding rule or not.
Article 17.7 of the Treaty is quite ambiguous, stating that the European Council shall be “taking into account the elections to the European Parliament” when proposing a candidate for President of the Commission. Despite this legal controversy, Member States endorsed Juncker at the European Summit on 26/27 June following the results of the European elections.
On 15 July, the European Parliament confirmed the proposed candidate and elected Juncker with a strong majority of 422 votes from a total of 729 cast. He is scheduled to succeed the incumbent José Manuel Barroso in November.
On 8 July, the list of Parliamentary committees and their chairpersons was released after intense weeks of discussions. Twenty committees will be responsible for carrying on the legislative work of the European Parliament.
The Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) committee is usually the one in which FERMA has the most interest related to insurance matters (e.g. IMD2, Solvency 2.) It will be chaired for the next two and a half years by Italian MEP Roberto Gualtieri from the second most important political group S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats). Other industry-related committees that we will also watch carefully include Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).
The high number of new MEPs means new contacts to be made and opportunities to identify potential new allies.