Slovenian MEPs assess the election of Italy’s David Sassoli for the president of the European Parliament mostly in the light of the political agreement on the distribution of senior EU posts, in which they see small countries remaining neglected.
It has been agreed that Sassoli, a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), will chair the European Parliament in the first half of the five-year term.
Ahead of the secret ballot, support for the Italian had been announced by the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) and the Renew Europe (RE).
The EPP endorsed him after Tuesday’s agreement at the EU summit, under which the new European Commission is to be presided by German Ursula von der Leyen of the EPP, as it is expected that the S&D will vote for Von der Leyen in two weeks.
Slovenian MEPs from the EPP said, as they commented on the developments, that political compromises were a must.
“The new president of the European Parliament is not a pick of the EPP, of course, but we have endorsed him as an acceptable candidate given that we are pursuing our goals, which is chairing the European Commission,” Romana Tomc (SDS) told Slovenian reporters in Brussels.
She added that Sassoli was expected to “act like a true politician at the highest European level” and to credibly represent the institution which sometimes turns out to be the weakest link in talks with the European Council and European Commission.
“The People’s Party has stuck to its part of the bargain, and I hope and believe that the Socialists will too in 14 days, when the new president of the European Commission will need to be appointed with a majority,” added Franc Bogovič (SLS).
Slovenian MEPs from the S&D and the RE do not perceive the appointment in this light, with Tanja Fajon (SD/S&D) being convinced that many things could happen in the next 14 days.
“A majority of S&D delegations expressed explicit disagreement to the agreement on Tuesday, especially to the selection for the president of the European Commission, which is why it is hard to predict whether the entire S&D political group will vote against.”
Milan Brglez (SD) assessed that there was no absolute majority for Von der Leyen in the European Parliament, adding that he expected pressure from several sides in the coming days and weeks.
Irena Joveva (LMŠ/RE) said that despite the support for Sassoli, it had been agreed that “we will go step by step” and that the MEPs would talk first with the remaining candidates elected by the European Parliament.
According to her, this in particular refers to the potential president of the European Commission. “We hope that her answers will convince us to endorse her, and consequently, the agreement.”
Slovenian MEPs are unhappy that neither of the key posts will be taken by a representative of a small country of East Europe.
“The EU has remained geographically unbalanced, with the axis from Denmark to Spain taking over all major posts, but Europe is more than this colonial part of Europe. I hope that the leading ones will see this,” said Bogovič.
Joveva and her party colleague Klemen Grošelj agreed, with Grošelj saying that this was the reason the party strongly supported the process of democratisation of the EU, which was to address the issue of geographical, gender and other representation.
Fajon said that the agreement allowing such a distribution of posts was a great disappointment. She added that the European Parliament would almost certainly be chaired by Manfred Weber in the second half of the term, which would mean that Germans would head two institutions.
Fajon, Brglez, Bogovič and Ljudmila Novak (NSi/EPP) are also disappointed with the agreement burying the concept of Spitzenkandidaten. Joveva and Grošelj meanwhile said that this was proof that something was wrong with the system and they expect corrections to it.