EPP new leadership: the Polish faces

The situation in the largest group in the European Parliament is such that the biggest national cohorts have significantly changed. Not only the number went down from 216 to 179. Also, the number of MEPs elected from large and populous countries went down. In Germany from 34 to 29, in Poland from 22 to 17, in France from 20 to 8, in Spain from 17 to 12 and in Italy from 12 to 7. Only in Romania the number went up – from 13 to 14 MEPs. In mid-sized nations Hungary stands out. In the 9th Parliament there will be 13. Every other national delegation shall have fewer than 10 MEPs within the EPP ranks.

Size matters and always had in the EPP. The group is largely dominated by the larger national delegations. Hence it is very telling that the French and the Italians effectively become a second-class MEPs in the largest EP group. The group continues to be dominated by the German CDU/CSU, and the 2nd largest national delegation still is Polish with PO and PSL contributing 17 mandates.

What will be the role of the Polish EPP members in the new Parliament? Last term this big delegation chose smartly to influence “from behind”: three of the EPP Committee chairmen went to the Poles: Mr Buzek served as Industry, Research and Energy, ITRE chair (and the Conference of Committee Chairs, CCC for the initial 2.5 years); Ms Huebner was chairwoman of the AFCO committee responsible for Brexit; and Mr Siekierski directed the works of the agricultural committee AGRI. Mr Siekierski has not been re-elected.

Ms Huebner and Mr Buzek are back in the European Parliament. So is Mr Janusz Lewandowski, who was the leader of the Polish EPP delegation in the last term. This function will now travel to a new MEP elected from Warsaw Andrzej Halicki. This is largely considered an important job in the hands of a person who links the works of the Polish EPP delegation and the PO party back home. PSL’s co-chair will be one of the party 3 MEPs – Mr Krzysztof Hetman, who returns to the Parliament for his second term.

Ewa Kopacz

EPP also elected its new leadership today. Ewa Kopacz, a former prime minister and health minister, is now one of the EPP vice-presidents, standing behind the new-old leader Manfred Weber.

Previously Mr Jan Olbrycht was tipped for the position. For many years the PO’s vice-chair of the EPP has been Mr Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, who has stunned his party in 2017 swapping the PO for the ruling PiS. Mr Saryusz-Wolski is an MEP again, this time with the ECR group.

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