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New president, new direction?

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters, Politico
New president, new direction?

Commentators say the appointment of a centre-right president for the European Parliament consolidates the conservative grip on key EU institutions.

The victory of 63-year-old Antonio Tajani means the leaders of all three main EU institutions – the Parliament, the Commission and the Council – are from the centre-right.

Tajani relied on support from the governing conservative parties of the UK and Poland to get elected.

Both are sharply critical of the EU.

The new coalition that will run the legislature will rely on an alliance between eurosceptic conservatives and pro-EU centre-right and liberal lawmakers.

Tajani issued what commentators say is an “unusual” remark for the president of an institution that has traditionally been a bulwark of the EU project.

“(Solutions to the EU’s problems) are not found in more and more Europe,” Tajani said.

Nor are solutions to be found in blowing up the EU project, he added.

Martin Schulz

Tajani, a former journalist, succeeds German Social Democrat Martin Schulz as president.

Schulz’s tenure saw close cooperation with the centre-right head of the EU executive, Jean-Claude Juncker.

However, it ended with recriminations over the end of a decade-long left-right grand coalition.


“A new political phase starts in the EP,” – the Socialists and Democrats group.

“The work to move Europe forward begins now” – ALDE group.

“After a clear set of political commitments from Antonio Tajani, the ECR group will support his candidature in the final round,” – ECR group.