Posts in "Lithuania" Category

Dear @Xavier_Bettel, it’s time to rotate the @EU_Presidency

Bettel

In seven months Luxembourg will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. Preparations seem to be well underway, but so far your government has not set up a specific Twitter account for the presidency.

As you may know, the current Italian EU Presidency is quite active on Twitter. It has amassed more than 32,000 followers to its account, @IT2014EU. The Latvian government – which holds the presidency in the first half of 2015 – is already tweeting via two accounts – in English (@EU2015LV), and in Latvian (@ES2015LV). They have a combined total of  more than 3,800 followers.

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A trio of troubles in Tusk’s in-tray

??????????????????????????????????The final piece of Europe’s jigsaw is almost in place.

On Monday, Donald Tusk (pictured above) – elected by the national leaders at the end of August, becomes President of the European Council. But what faces the former Polish prime minister when he arrives in his new office on Monday?

Herman Van Rompuy – Tusk’s predecessor in the role – identified three key issues when the new President was unveiled in the summer. None of the these three issues has become simpler in the last three months.

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A five-point guide to the EU top jobs puzzle

This weekend, the European Council will meet again to decide on the holders of the EU’s top jobs.

Here’s our five-point guide to Saturday’s meeting and what it means – and have your say on one of the key issues of the summer by voting in our poll.

1. Time for action

hvr squareAfter the failure to agree on the top jobs at the last summit in July, European Union leaders are under pressure to reach an accord. The European Council is increasingly gaining a reputation as an institution that takes too long to decide anything, and whose decisions are often ‘fudges’.

Saturday is the crunch moment: if EU leaders fail to conclude a ‘package’ of appointments, it will put paid to any remote hopes of appointing the Commission on time. More importantly in the long term, it will increase popular and global perceptions of the EU as a sclerotic organisation. Herman Van Rompuy (pictured left), the President of the European Council, was criticised by EU leaders and many analysts for not preparing a watertight deal before July’s summit (although he was not helped by some prime ministers). The President will not want another failure.

The decisions are not easy: there are significant political, institutional and personal headaches for the 28 leaders. But the leaders are there to lead, and to decide. It’s time to act.

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Herman’s checklist: finding a balance for the EU’s top jobs

9157497455_724ede816a_h - UPDATEDA big week, and a careful balancing act

This time next week, Angela Merkel will be celebrating her sixtieth birthday – and short of anything better to cheer, the rest of the European Council will probably be celebrating the end of the gruelling quinquennial EU top jobs race.

Tuesday (15 July) sees the election of the new President of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker does not quite have his feet under the desk yet, but the ‘grand coalition’ that held for Martin Schulz’s election as President of the European Parliament is expected to hold and see Juncker made President-elect.

And then, on Wednesday, the rest of the pieces of the top jobs jigsaw are expected to be put into place.

The European Council, denied a backroom deal over the Commission presidency, can (more or less) get back to old ways with its selection of a new President of the European Council and a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (although the choice for the latter position is one for leaders to take with the President-elect). A new permanent president for the Eurogroup (finance ministers of eurozone countries) is also expected to be named.

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Building a new Commission – the runners and riders for the next College

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]Post updated later on Wednesday 11 June to account for news that Dacian Cioloș (Agriculture and Rural Development; Romania) may be re-nominated to the Commission.[/infopane]

With the choice of a President of the European Commission still up in the air, we are a long way off knowing the full team that will occupy the upper floors of the Berlaymont for the next five years.

Nevertheless, national governments are already putting forward their proposed nominees to sit in the new College. Here’s our look at the comings and goings in the Commission in 2014, and the potential candidates to take a seat in the new Commission.

If you have comments or suggestions, please include them in the comments box.

See our country-by-country guide to the potential nominees

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Social media and the elections – did it have an impact?

Election night turnoutBefore the European Parliament elections social media was trumpeted as a key method to increase turnout, attract support and build interest (especially among the European political parties). Two weeks on from the elections, we can ask the question – did it have an impact?

Social media offers politicians and voters an unparalleled level of direct access to each other. The former use it in the hope of mobilising support – although whether it attracts new support is a moot point (many people follow people with whose views they already identify). Fortunately, social media also produces large amounts of data that allow us to study its impact in greater detail.

We’ll focus on turnout. Decades of declining voter turnout was brought to an end (albeit marginally). But did social media have an impact?

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Who’s going where? Tracking the musical chairs in the European Parliament

[infopane color=”5″ icon=”0049.png”]Please note that since the constitutive session of the European Parliament on 1 July 2014, this page is no longer being updated.[/infopane]
EPP S&D ALDE G/EFA ECR EFDD GUE/NGL NI
221 191 67 50 70 48 52 52
27 countries 28 countries 21 countries 17 countries 15 countries 7 countries 14 countries 10 countries
The 2014 European elections brought 34 new parties or independent candidates to the European Parliament.

Now, many of those new MEPs are seeking to join political groups to strengthen their voice in the Parliament, while a battle goes on between the groups to attract new members that help ensure their survival and maximise their influence, speaking time and funding.

One new group – the European Alliance for Freedom – has also been mooted as a way to bring together anti-EU parties on the radical right. To form this and other groups, a minimum of 25 MEPs are needed, representing at least seven member states.

At the same time, other parties are considering changing groups or allying themselves to a group for the first time.

Take a look at our table listing the parties up for grabs, based on the vast array of information from intelligence we have gathered and media reports – and contribute via the button below or the comments box at the bottom of the page.

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Elections round-up: EPP loses but stays as biggest group, while anti-EU parties surge

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Europe’s voters have backed a vast array of anti-EU and anti-establishment voters in the 2014 European Parliament elections, sending fewer MEPs from each of the main political groups back to Brussels and Strasbourg.

Despite being the biggest loser of the night in terms of seats, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) looks like emerging as the biggest party in the European Parliament with its support holding up in Germany and Poland among the larger member states, and good support across central and Eastern Europe. The Socialists are also set to lose a handful of seats, with the Liberals likely to lose around 20 seats according to the latest projections.

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Addressing the challenge to sexual and reproductive rights

Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European Network, writes about the importance of the European elections for her organisation and its ‘I Decide’ campaign:

For many years, Europe has played a leading role in international discussions on development and human rights.

But now it is at a crossroads when it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). On the eve of the European Parliament elections, it is unclear whether Europe will remain a progressive force on issues relating to sexuality education, gay rights and access to safe abortion, or whether it will be blown off course by a wave of conservative hostility towards people’s freedom to make their own life choices.

SRHR have come under attack during the outgoing legislature by vocal anti-choice minorities. But this parliament’s legacy should, be one of consistent support for SRHR. The European elections and the changes in the European Commission will be enormously important in setting the political tone for the next five years, and the newcomers must continue to play a strong leadership role on SRHR and gender equality. The likely influx of Eurosceptics and far-right MEPs makes the landscape challenging.

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Who and what will shape health policy in the coming years?

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????By this time next week, we may be starting to witness momentous change in the European Union: new people, a new policy direction, and a new paradigm in the way the institutions relate to each other. But where will these changes leave health policy?

The results of the broader policy discussions that affect the healthcare sector – and in particular the pharmacutical and medical devices industries – may take a while to become clear. The results of negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and reform of the Troika could take several years to become clear, although we can begin to predict the impact the new European Commission and European Parliament will have on them.

In some cases, this could mean more battles ahead: for example, Martin Schulz – the Party of European Socialists‘ candidate for the Commission presidency –  has stated his commitment to TTIP, but many Socialists are reluctant to accept many key elements of the potential agreement, such as the investor-state dispute settlement, and this opposition could cause headaches for European businesses.

In more detailed healthcare policy terms, there is perhaps more clarity, and also a bit more certainty following the developments of the last five years.

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