Politics & Economics

Renew Europe and Greens groups build on new-old presidencies as the new mandate approaches

July 2024
By Editorial Staff

French Mep Valérie Hayer was confirmed chair of the Renew group as the new European Parliament mandate is to be kicked off. President Macron-backed top candidate for European elections was not affected by the attempt of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE) to take the lead of the group by proposing the Portuguese deputy João Cotrim de Figueiredo. It took four hours for the Portuguese candidate to justify the withdrawal of his nomination after the “frank and fruitful discussions” held with Hayer.

The French Mep was elected at the group’s helm last January after her predecessor Stéphane Séjourné took oath as Foreign Affairs minister for the new government in Paris. During her first and sole mandate as member of the Parliament, Hayer sat on the Budgets Committee and in October 2021, she was chosen to be the co-president of the Renaissance Delegation to the European Parliament.

Speaking to journalists after her election she stressed the fact that the Renew group is an indispensable political force to form a majority in the European Parliament built on cooperation between the European People’s Party group and the Socialists and Democrats. This goes with no regard for the large loss of seats the group suffered in the last elections. The Renew Europe group counts 76 deputies, 24 less than it consisted of in the previous mandate – where the hemicycle was 17 seats smaller than the new one.  

On the sidelines of the group constitutive meeting, Hayer restated the red line drawn by the group if Ursula von der Leyen widens to the ECR group the majority she is seeking to secure for a second mandate at the helm of the European Commission.

Cotrim de Figueiredo, who can claim experience in top roles in companies like Compal and TVI will flank Hayer as Vice President of the group. He led the Liberal Initiative party until January 2023 and contributed to its election results with an 8-seat gain in the new Parliament in 2022.

Renew group presidency will include Billy Kelleher from Ireland as first Vice President. During the last European Parliament mandate he was a member of the ECON Committee and Vice-Chair of the Delegation for relations with the US, but previously spent his political career as Minister for Labour Affairs and later on Minister for Trade and Commerce. The Dutch Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy is serving as a member of the Parliament for its fourth term and besides being vice-chairman of the ENVI Committee he dealt with negotiations on an EU ban on invasive alien species.

The group of Vice Presidents also includes the Slovenian MEP Irena Joveva, who was involved in health-related issues during the last term, and the Latvian Ivars Ijabs, who was active in various committees including ITRE and served as a member of the United States, Andean Community, Southeast Asia and ASEAN delegations. Among other Vice Presidents, the Danish Morten Løkkegaard can boast experience as MEP since 2009 and parliamentary activity in CULT, INTA and IMCO committees. In their first term as a member of the Parliament, the Romanian Dan Barna served as Secretary of State for the Ministry of European Funds under Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos in 2016. The Finnish Anna-Maja Henriksson will contribute with her expertise as former Minister of Justice.

The Greens confirmed their two-headed chairmanship

Terry Reintke and Bas Eickhout will keep co-leading the Greens. The German MEP is going to serve in the Parliament for her third consecutive term and will presumably further advocate for equal rights and gender equality. The Dutch deputy is starting his fourth mandate after having recently served as vice-chair of the ENVI committee.

The group will be 17 seats smaller in the new Parliament but represents a possible foothold for Ursula von der Leyen as she seeks support for a second mandate at the helm of the European Commission. The group is available to contribute to a reliable and democratic majority in Parliament for the next five years, but its participation will probably be disliked by many deputies from the European People’s Party. Negotiations are ongoing at the top-party level but divergence on the approach for the implementation of the Green Deal policies is not new.

“We firmly believe that our green agenda, including investment in employment and a sustainable industrial strategy, promotes economic security and makes the EU stronger and more secure”, Bas Eickhout said countering the narrative based on a tradeoff between environmental sustainability and economic security.

The Catalonian Diana Riba i Giner was appointed as the first Vice President of the group. She started her political career by advocating for democracy and human rights in Catalonia. She became particularly prominent in the fight for the rights of political prisoners and exiles, following the aftermath and repression of the Catalan independence referendum in 2017. Once elected in the European Parliament in 2019 as representative for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, she served on LIBE, CULT and FEMM committees. In the second half of her mandate, she was part of the Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware.

Former commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius is among the Vice Presidents list. The Danish Kira Marie Peter-Hansen is the face of the Greens exploit in the European elections, as the ecologists stood out and gained 17%. She will prioritize environmentally friendly policies and advocacy for LGBT+ rights along the lines of her political action during the last mandate.
The Italian medical professional, university professor and former mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino will take on the role of Vice President as well. The Swedish Alice Bah Kuhnke is reconfirmed for the same post also for this mandate. Her name was proposed by the group in 2022 to become president of the European Parliament but failed the competition in favour of Roberta Metsola.