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Brexit contingency planning revives old issue of MEP apportionment

Copyright Grecaud Paul (Adobe Stock)

With the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union fast approaching, European political scientists and parliamentarians are struggling to address the impending vacancy of the country’s 73 seats in the European Parliament.

At the conclusion of the two-year transition period tied to Article 50 procedures, the supranational legislative body will see its membership drop from 751 to 678 unless European leaders can reach an agreement on the fate of those seats. Several MEPs and national politicians have floated proposals to reallocate seats to address issues of proportional representation and European unity.

One such proposal, which has alternatively generated enthusiasm and strong skepticism along party lines within the European Parliament, entails the establishment of a supranational constituency that would provide for European voters to select at-large candidates regardless of residency of both the voters and the candidates.

This idea was originally floated in 2011 by then-MEP Andrew Duff (ALDE–UK), but it failed to gain traction beyond initial consideration by the Constitutional Affairs Committee.[1] However, the Italian government reintroduced the idea before the European Council in April 2017, and French president Emmanuel Macron gave the proposal renewed impetus in September 2017, with French officials arguing that a transnational list could “increase the visibility of trans-European parties” and “send a message of unity and confidence” in European integration.[2] Read More…

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At S&D TTIP panel, interest groups warn of trade deal risks

By Jared Angle

BRUSSELS — American and European trade officials met with interest group representatives to discuss potential outcomes of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in a panel discussion at the European Parliament on Nov. 18.

Hosted by the EP’s centre-left Socialists and Democrats bloc and the International Trade committee, the panel brought Deputy US Trade Representative Michael Punke and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström together with experts from European and American consumer protection and labor rights groups.

Journalists and panelists at the Nov. 18 discussion on TTIP.

Journalists and panelists at the Nov. 18 discussion on TTIP.

Projected tariff reductions under TTIP will allow companies to pass savings onto consumers and will allow new companies to begin exporting to international markets, according to Malmström.

“We will deliver a TTIP that is good for consumers; not bad, not ugly,” Malmström said.

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US-EU trade agreement could benefit small, medium companies

By Jared Angle

WASHINGTON — The upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will provide a boost for small and mid-sized companies (SMEs) in the United States and Europe, according to business leaders and industry analysts in a panel discussion on Nov. 14.

The event, hosted by the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based international relations think tank, coincides with the release of a report examining the agreement’s effect on SMEs.

The report, written by Garrett Workman of the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program, identifies major export challenges for SMEs and proposes policy changes that would encourage American and European SMEs to begin exporting products or increase the volume of their existing exports.

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Europarl defection causes EFDD political group disintegration

By Jared Angle

BRUSSELS — Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), the eurosceptic political group led by UK Independence Party MEP Nigel Farage, dissolved Thursday following the defection of a key Latvian MEP.

MEP Iveta Grigule, a member of the Latvian Farmers Union party, left her position in the group Thursday morning, according to EU news website EurActiv and sources in Parliament (EP).

BerlaymontFlags

EU flags fly at the Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. Photo by Jared Angle.

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The role of ISDS in contemporary EU trade agreements

By Jared Angle

BRUSSELS — Much of the recent debate over European Union trade negotiations, specifically regarding transatlantic trade agreements with Canada and the United States, has fixated on the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement, commonly known as ISDS.

Incoming Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said Sept. 29 that the ISDS chapter of TTIP negotiations is currently frozen, and will be revisited at a later date.

Outgoing Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht initially stripped ISDS from TTIP negotiations due to German resistance to the legal mechanism, but he insists that ISDS is a crucial investment protection tool that belongs in a finalized version of TTIP, according to Martina Ferracane, a policy analyst at the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), a think tank based in Brussels.

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Commissioner-Designate Cecilia Malmström: Confirmation Hearing Highlights

Members of the European Parliament, led by the Committee on International Trade, questioned Commissioner Cecilia Malmström (ALDE, Sweden) on her ability to serve as the EU’s 15th trade commissioner during a two-and-a-half hour hearing on Sept. 29.

Malmström, 46, currently holds the Commission’s Home Affairs portfolio, and is expected to begin her second term in the Commission on Nov. 1.

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