Roberto Gualtieri, Professor of Contemporary History at the La Sapienza University in Rome and MEP for the Democratic Party since June 2009, is the new President of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) of the European Parliament. Elected by acclamation, as per two of the four Vice Presidents of the Committee, the German Markus Ferber (EPP) and Peter Simon (S&D).
The third candidate for the Presidency, proposed by ECR, was Bernd Lucke, German, founder of “Alternative for Germany” and known for his eurosceptic and anti-euro positions. Some groups asked for a secret voting second ballot though, and Lucke’s candidacy was turned down with 30 votes against 21, and 6 abstentions. Gualtieri chose to postpone the constitutive meeting to 14 July then, to give another possibility to the ECR group. Were Conservatives to fail in proposing a reliable alternative candidate, ECON will indicate a person from another group. “I thought it was better to adjourn the meeting,” said the newly elected President, “because I thought it would have been better to give all parties some time for their reflections on this vote and to take their decisions in order to complete, with the widest possible consensus, the elections for the President office of the Commitee.”
“I expected that,” commented Lucke when the meeting was over, “I wanted to make it clear I was rejected by a majority accepting only those who agree with it. Democracy was not respected: I say and I will keep on saying that Member States should be free to leave the single currency system, and that Treaties should be consequently modified.”
According to Sylvie Goulard, French MEP, democracy was perfectly respected though. “He proposed his candidacy and was not elected. It is no mistery his party wants to split the euro area, we are here for respecting treaties not to destroy Europe.” As Goulard underlined, it was also important to maintain a certain geographical difference among Vice Presidents: “We already have two coming from the same country, I have nothing against Germany, I would say that even for France or Portugal. We need to keep these differences in our delegations.”
“I am glad to chair this Committee, one of the most important of the entire European Parliament,” said Gualtieri, “and I am aware I now bear a great responsibility. We will work hard, dealing with economic union, financial markets, we will stimulate the debate and debate with the European Commission; we will keep up with the monetary dialogue with the European Central Bank as well.”