20 MEPs TO WATCH IN 2020

Source: Politico

  1. Pascal Canfin (France): One of the new European Commission’s priorities is the Green Deal and Canfin, a climate expert and one of the few influential Frenchmen in the Parliament, has already positioned himself as a leading voice pushing for an ambitious package. As chair of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee, he will steer the work on many important laws, especially a new climate law that is due to be presented by March. He will be a key figure in negotiations on the Green Deal on behalf of his Renew Europe group.
  2. Petra De Sutter (Belgium): De Sutter is the first Green MEP to chair the powerful Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee. De Sutter will steer the work of one of the most eclectic committees, which deal with big files such as public procurement, dual quality food and multiple digital issues.
  3. Irene Tinagli (Italy): She is not only heading the committee that will handle high-profile bills on sustainable finance, banking and markets, she’s also pushing for the Parliament to get a big upgrade in its authority: power to vote on tax legislation.
  4. Manon Aubry (France): She won’t play a role in crucial committees but already made a name for herself during the commissioners’ confirmation hearings, denouncing the Parliament’s lack of control and transparency during the process. She was sanctioned by the Parliament for calling on the Extinction Rebellion protest movement to occupy the assembly.
  5. Esther de Lange (Netherlands): She was involved in drafting the EPP position on the Green Deal and is a member of the ENVI committee. She provided the "man on the moon moment" line used by Ursula von der Leyen when the Commission president presented her Green Deal in Parliament.
  6. Dacian Ciolos (Romania):  He leads the Centrist Renew Europe group, a group that will be instrumental in reaching broad coalitions in the Parliament, including on big EU files such as climate and digital issues. He will have to maintain cohesion in a group where many parties have different notions of liberal policies and have little to do with each other.
  7. Johan Van Overtveldt (Belgium): He will be tasked with trying to keep political groups within the European Parliament united on key questions regarding the 2021-2027 EU budget.
  8. Ville Niinistö (Finland): He is coordinator for his party (The Finnish Green) in the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee. He will oversee the group’s work on some important files including the industrial strategy and circular economy action plan, both due in March.
  9. Esteban Gonzalez Pons (Spain): As vice chair of the EPP group, he is seen as an influential politician who could well replace Manfred Weber, the current leader of the group, if Weber goes back to national politics.
  10. Daniel Caspary (Germany): He’s the head of Germany’s conservative delegation in the European Parliament and a member of the CDU. Berlin worries that, with Ursula von der Leyen as president of the Commision, she will be under pressure to make sure the EU isn’t seen as too German. That puts more pressure on Caspary, who has to make sure German interests are promoted in Brussels.
  11. Daniel Freund (Germany): He’s one of the main rapporteurs on the Conference on the Future of Europe and has pushed the idea of an independent ethics body. Von der Leyen tasked Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova with looking into the idea in order to make EU ethics and enforcement consistent across the main institutions. Daniel Freund has taken over the work from Sven Giegold on lobby transparency in the German Green delegation.
  12. Samira Rafaela (Netherlands): Rafaela symbolizes a new trade direction within the European Parliament. Putting human and environmental rights in trade agreements is not just an issue of the left anymore but gets backing from liberals.
  13. Katalin Cseh (Hungarian): She’s vice chair of the Renew Europe group. Cseh is among the new, young cohort of elected officials trying to change political culture both in her native Hungary and within the European Parliament. She uses her position as an MEP to denounce Viktor Orban and reach out to young people across Central Europe.
  14. Alex Agius Saliba (Malta): He sits in the Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee and has been put in charge of his committee’s report on the Digital Services Act- a future piece of legislation expected from the European Commission that will set the rules on how platforms such as Google and Facebook police illegal content online. He will have to deal with an intense amount of lobbying from the private sector which has already started. His report will set the tone on an issue that is already described as more controversial than the copyright reform.
  15. Martin Hojsik (Slovakia):  Hojsik has established himself early on as a major opponent of the over-use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, helping to halt Commission legislation in a bid to achieve stronger rules for bee-harming pesticides and objecting to the automatic extension of some pesticides’ EU licenses.
  16. Herbert Dorfmann (Italy): He’s the EPP coordinator/spokesman on the Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) Committee and, along Norbert Lins, tasked by his party with helping steer the CAP reform package through parliament. A wily operator, Dorfmann is also cautious and a good communicator. He authored a CAP reform report that prefigured the Commission’s proposal in 2018. He will be influential in deciding EPP positions ahead of negotiations to come.
  17. Tiemo Wölken (Germany): He’s the lead rapporteur in the ENVI Committee on health technology assessment (HTA)- a complicated term for judging how well new medicines work. He is likely to be a key player in upcoming debates about drug prices, medical device safety and e-health.
  18. Carles Puigdemont (Spain): The Puigdemont saga is likely to be a regular feature of EU news in 2020. He is expected to import his pro-independence fight to the Parliament and defend the rights of his fellow Catalans.
  19. Nico Semsrott (Germany): MEPs have long had an image as distant, sometimes disgraced, politicians. Semsrott might not be the one overseeing the most important EU files, but he can contribute to making MEPs and the Parliament more fun, modern and visible.
  20. Laura Huhtasaari (Finland): She’s the vice president of The Finns Party and a member of Identity and Democracy. She’s a promoter of Finland’s exist from the EU and a staunch supporter of Donald Trump.

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