03 Jul 2014
Hello and welcome to our round-up of the European Parliament's plenary session here in Strasbourg, the first since EU elections were held in May.
The week was dominated by the election of the new Parliament President and 14 Vice Presidents after intense cross-party negotiation-- and compromise.
Greece´s just finished Presidency of the EU-- and Italy´s just started-- were also placed under scrutiny by Parliament´s 751 new and re-elected members.
Central theme: would austerity or greater public spending best invigorate Europe´s still-stagnant economy? We begin our coverage with the election of the 8th European Parliament´s President.
A technical cross-party deal to secure Jean Claude Junker's anticipated confirmation in Parliament in mid-July as Commission President led to the re-election by an absolute majority of Socialist and Democratic leader Martin Schulz as President of the Parliament.
Rejecting Eurosceptic criticism of backroom deals, EPP Chairman Manfred Weber indicated several hundred million European parliament voters finally had their voices heard-- and supported -- by the vast majority of the EU´s 28 member state governments.
Today is a very good day for Europe. It´s a start of the next period of the European Parliament and this means Europe is democratising.
We as the EPP... we promised the people in Europe that Jean Claude Juncker will become President of the European Commission, will lead Europe...and that promise, we will keep this promise.
Despite the juggling and technical compromises made by main party rivals in Europe, Weber made clear there are still key party differences on getting more European citizens, young and older, back into the workforce.
One of the lessons of the crisis was to make stronger regulation of financial markets, to give them a clear direction for the future. And we want to implement now the new rules. And the second lesson we learned is that new debt is not creating new jobs.
The EPP also won six of Parliament´s 14 vice presidents and as part of the technical deal supported four Socialists and one from the David Cameron-backed European Conservative and Reform Group.
The six EPP Group Parliamentary vice presidents are: Rainer Wieland of Germany; former EU Commissioner Antonio Tajani of Italy; Ramon Luis Valcarcel of Spain, Adina Ioana Valean of Romania; Ildiko Gall-Pelcz of Hungary; and Mairead McGuinness of Ireland.
The EPP also gained two key financial and administrative oversight posts, known as Quaestors: Andrey Kovatchev of Bulgaria and Elisabeth Morin-Chartier of France.
Leaders in the European Council, reviewing their recent summit, agreed that Europe was in better shape and now needed to build up EU investment in jobs and infrastructure-- without looking fiscally reckless.
Outgoing European Council President Herman van Rompuy said the EU remained on track following a solid Greek presidency of the EU and its push for data and other cross border legal protections. Van Rompuy also spelled out his vision of the main priorities ahead for the EU.
First, stronger economies with more jobs. Making the most of the single market. Reinforcing the monetary and economic union. Promoting entrepreneurship, job creation and investment and reinforcing our global attractiveness as a trading partner. And this will be vital work.
Meanwhile centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who leads Italy´s EU presidency over the next six months, said extremists and populists had recently been rewarded by frustrated voters weary after five years of growth-less austerity.
We were the first saying that we want to to respect the rules and we not asking to change them.
You respect the rules by remembering that we all, or our predecessors, together signed a Stability and Growth Pact.
We´ve got stability but there´s growth in there as well. And what we´re asking for now is for growth as a fundamental element of European economic policy.
But the EPPs Manfred Weber warned in no uncertain terms that creating new public debt was the wrong message at the wrong time from the wrong messenger.
We have to learn the debt lessons from the past, take them seriously and apply them. That´s the only way out of the crisis. To maintain sustainable budgets.
And I ask the Italian Prime Minister, whose country has a debt to GDP ratio of 130 percent, where should the money come from?
You said yourself that you wanted to create chances for your children and not build yet again more debts for them.
Thus the heated debate over debt vs. spending to fuel EU growth and recovery is clearly set to go on running.
That´s all from Strasbourg. Parliament here has a freshly re-elected President, and in two weeks seems set to elect a brand new Commission President--the EPP Group´s Jean Claude Juncker.
Meanwhile find out more about the largest political force in Parliament by going to eppgroup.eu. Thanks for looking in.
New European Parliament elects President and Vice-presidents; Debate on the future Stability and Growth Pact
European Parliament technical cross party deal gives former and future EP President Martin Schulz absolute majority in exchange for Jean Claude Juncker election as Commission President in mid-July EP vote; Italian PM push for austerity easing rebuffed by EPP Chairman Weber.
Jean Claude Juncker, Martin Schulz, Manfred Weber, EPP Group, Austerity, Growth, Matteo Renzi, Herman Van Rompuy, Italian EU Presidency, European Parliament, EPP Group, Strasbourg
This media asset is free for editorial broadcast, print, online and radio use. It is restricted for use for other purposes.