Fine Gael and Sinn Fein to take seat on ECON committee in Europe

Mairead McGuinness elected vice-president of European Parliament

 

Ireland will have two MEPs on the influential economics committee in the new European Parliament, with the appointment of former junior finance minister Brian Hayes and Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy expected to be confirmed today.

Yesterday marked the opening session of the new European Parliament following the European elections in May.

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness was yesterday elected as one of 14 vice-presidents of the new 751-strong assembly. Ms McGuinness was elected in the first round to the position which involves standing in for the European Parliament president if needed, including chairing plenary sessions.

Speaking yesterday in Strasbourg, Ms McGuinness said she was honoured. “This places me in a unique position to communicate with, inform and influence, as appropriate, my European colleagues on key issues of interest to Ireland,” the MEP for Midlands-North West said.

Other vice-presidents include former European commissioner Olli Rehn and Italian commissioner Antonio Tajani.

Brian Hayes

Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes is expected to be confirmed as a member of the economic and monetary affairs (Econ) committee on behalf of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group where he will sit alongside

Mr Carthy.

Although a “substitute” member, Mr Carthy will have much the same function as a full member, though not full voting rights.

The Econ committee has played an increasingly powerful role in the development of European economic policy and financial services legislation.

Irish MEP Gay Mitchell was a substitute member in the last European Parliament.

Ireland’s representatives on the agriculture committee will be Independent MEP Luke “Ming” Flanagan, who has joined the left-wing GUE-NGL group in the parliament, Mr Carthy and Ms McGuinness, who will be re-elected to the committee.

All of Ireland’s remaining MEPs, including Independent MEPs Marian Harkin and Nessa Childers, will also be appointed to committees, which will be confirmed in the coming days.

Re-election

German socialist Martin Schulz was re-elected as the president of the European Parliament yesterday with 409 votes out of 612 valid votes cast.

Mr Schulz, who was the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) candidate to become the European Commission president but lost out to Jean-Claude Juncker, is expected to be replaced by a European People’s Party (EPP) candidate in January 2017. Mr Schulz’s appointment was widely expected as the S&D group backed Mr Juncker’s candidature last month.

Addressing the parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Schulz said it was “an extraordinary honour” to be the first person to be re-elected as European Parliament President.

He said enormous challenges remained for the European Union, including the problem of unemployment.