The new European Parliament has finalised its structure by electing the chairs of its 20 standing committees, where most of legislative work takes place. The parliament has already demonstrated its increased status by successfully imposing on Member States its choice for European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. However, pro-European groups fear that disruptive eurosceptic elements may undermine efforts to sustain the parliament’s strengthened role and have therefore striven to limit the influence of anti-European MEPs. As a result, while eurosceptics have increased in number, the allocation of committee chairs shows that the pro-Europeans have consolidated their power at the expense of other groups.
The success of the fourth-largest political group, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), is a case in point. The pro-European Liberals secured more chairing seats than the third-largest group, the eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). The allocation of committee chairs is supposed to be proportionate to group representation in plenary, which would give the hardcore eurosceptic Europe of Freedom & Direct Democracy (EFDD) the right to one chair. However, the EFDD nominee for the Petitions Committee was outvoted in favour of the ALDE candidate.
In the same way, the pro-European ‘Grand Coalition’ of the European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and ALDE will continue to consolidate to obtain majorities on legislative dossiers. However, it should also be in their interest to ensure that critical views are not excluded from the debate and to include the representation of minority views.
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