June 24th is a big day in the EU Parliament’s calendar. Those wishing to form “Groups” must nominate their numbers by then. Each group must have a minimum of twenty five members drawn from across seven individual member states.
There is a lot to play for. Each group receives funding, based on the level of membership, to assist their members in undertaking the duties as MEPs. Also the size of the group will determine the speaking order and more importantly, positions and chairs of committee.
The EPP of which Fine Gael are members is still the largest group in the assembly. The SPD retain the second spot, to which Labour with no Irish MEPs are affiliated. It appears that the Alde Group of which Fianna Fail are members will move from the third largest group to fourth as the conservative grouping attract new national members and edge ahead. This change in rankings will not only have an impact on the internal workings of the parliament, but may also ultimately play out in the shape and direction of the new commission and some of the key appointments which have yet to be made there.
The jockeying for the top job as President of the Commission continues. There is a real battle playing out between parliament and the national governments as to who will be appointed. Juncker the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat (lead candidate) is seen by many as stale and too fixed in his ways to respond to a changing EU. It is said he favours continued centralisation of control and further expansion of the EU. To succeed in his current goal, he may have to commit to a some very real reforms and curtailment of his present budgetary policies. Once nominated, parliament will embrace him irrespective of policy as they will have won the day. The MEP’s will have triumphed, they have pushed the agenda that the Spitzenkandidat of the largest party should automatically be the nominee for the post.
On examination of the MEPs elected the message from across Europe is loosen the purse strings, get money circulating, create employment and improve economic prosperity for the masses. So it seems your vote really did matter.