With the first Plenary session of the new European Parliament and the inauguration of the Italian Presidency Semester, European politics is getting down to business. It will be just definition of offices at the beginning, but when these things are done, the discussion of the policies to be listed in the next 5-year agenda will be started.
In Strasbourg, the expected election of Martin Schulz as President of the European Parliament will take place tomorrow, supported by EPP, D&S, ALDE – adding up to 479, many more votes of the requested 376-MEP majority. We’ll see how many more – or less? – votes Schulz will get, given that not everyone agreed with his appointment, even inside his own party. Then, the election of 14 Vice Presidents, with Italy represented by Antonio Tajani and David Sassoli (both former journalists). The election of the German politician implies that Gianni Pittella, as expected, is to become President of the S&D Group – the second largest group of the Parliament – with a highly prestigious (and powerful) office to be assigned to Italy in view of its political weight. Tomorrow will be the first day of work for 17 Five Stars Movement MEPs; it will be a comeback for the radical Left instead, which has 3 MEPs elected with ‘L’Altra Europa’ after years of absence.
In Rome, the inauguration ceremony of the Italian Semester of the Presidency of the European Union will take place – even though the second half of the year is called ‘the short semester’ (including August and Christmas holidays). It will be a remarkably political semester, actually: the new European Commission will be created and will be in office in November, and the next 5-year agenda elaborated by leaders will be detailed (after its approval, concomitant with the indication of Juncker as Commission next President). “Don’t you feel a shiver running down you spine when you think you are called for realising the dream of the United States of Europe? The same dream held by the generation who started creating a new entity from the rubble of the postwar period?” This is a short text published on the temporary website of the Italian Semester by Matteo Renzi, who launched a message going well beyond the wishes of other European (non) conservative leaders such as David Cameron (the UK) and Viktor Orban (Hungary), or Dutch and French leaders too, probably.
Again in Rome, the Italian Cabinet will meet today, with two core issues to be discussed: the refining of the speech the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi will make on Wednesday in the afternoon at the European Parliament, and then the decision to be taken about the Italian Commissioner. Antonio Tajani, in fact, has left his position, choosing to become MEP – he was elected with Forza Italia: the Italian PM now faces three possibilities. First, a technical Commissioner for four months, for instance the former Ambassador Ferdinando Nelli Feroci; second, no one to replace Tajani, creating an ‘institutional void’ but only for few months; third, appointing a ‘final’ Commissioner, who will take Tajani’s portfolio temporarily and then will be confirmed in the next Commission. The latter hypothesis is the least probable: Renzi wants to be sure about the positions Italy will get into the new commission before making any permanent appointment. It is then possible to have no Commissioner for Industry at least until July 16, when the new European Council will distribute offices among Member States.