PES: Tajani's presidency confirms austerity policy

17/01/2017

The Party of European Socialists is very disappointed by the installation of Antonio Tajani as the new president of the European Parliament - putting the right-wing European People's Party (EPP) in control of all three main EU institutions.

Antonio Tajani

This suggests that Europe will go on with austerity policies and will leave behind the social agenda.

We are especially concerned that this retrograde step has been engineered through a deal between the centre-right EPP and the liberals (ALDE), later on adding the ECR group to this new coalition in a clear attempt to silence progressive voices in Parliament.

ALDE's leader Guy Verhofstadt rushed to support Tajani less than a week after he tried to unite ALDE with the populist 5 Star Movement of Beppe Grillo.

And the European conservatives (ECR) surprisingly extended their support to this new EPP-ALDE union at the eleventh hour.

PES president Sergei Stanishev said:

"This new deal cements the conservative status quo. I fear that adding Tajani to its collection of top EU positions will lead the EPP to turn its back completely on social justice, equality and civil rights, and focus even more obsessively on its austerity policy.

"On the other hand, this is a clear chance for European socialists and democrats to stand on behalf of European citizens against this new right coalition. We will not allow any compromise with people's rights and freedoms.

"We can also fight more fiercely for a social Europe. Our progressive voice will continue to be heard in the European Parliament, providing a clear alternative vision to that of the conservatives, neo-liberals and national populists.

The PES believes firmly that Gianni Pittella was the right candidate, one who could provide a new vision for the EP, working together with all parliamentary groups towards a common European future. But despite today's developments, socialists and democrats led by Pittella still make up the second-largest group of MEPs in the European Parliament and will constructively oppose the new coalition to defend Europeans' social rights.