#EAPM – And the winner is…the EU?

| May 27, 2019

Welcome to the start of what is sure to be another interesting week…during which we will keep you updated, of course, in true EAPM style as matters develop, which will probably happen quite quickly, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan. 

Or not. It’s been that kind of year, already.

We’re all aware of the announcement in the UK last week by a disappointed Theresa May that she will be standing down as party leader, but remaining as prime minister until the process of electing a new Conservative chief is completed (Boris Johnson is the current front-runner).

But as well as the fact she is leaving her role, we now also have a pretty accurate picture of how the EU-28 voted in the European Parliamentary elections.

A certain Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party have done rather well in Britain, to nobody’s real surprise, at the expense of both the Tories and Labour – again, to nobody’s surprise whatsoever. He may not have too long to warm his seat, though, if Boris has anything to do with it.

Somewhat more of a surprise, perhaps, is the fact that the EPP and S&D groups have taken a little bit of a spanking, (speaking of warm seats), with the liberals doing well and the Greens surging. Eurosceptic parties have done pretty well too, but not as well as was feared in the power-wielding corridors of the pro-European capitals.

Another surprise has been the turnout – the best for two decades – as more than50 percent of those eligible to vote actually did so.

This latter fact has cheered the Parliament in general in the sense that it appears, and the institution claims, that this gives more credence and lends more support to the Spitzenkandidaten process, of which more a little later.

Right at this minute it is, of course, early days and the effect of the voting remains to be seen as far as the make up of the new Commission is concerned. Interestingly, though, the institution’s vice-president Frans Timmermans’ socialists did way better than expected in the Netherlands, and Frans wants the top job at the Berlaymont, of course.

To briefly round-up the situation in the EP, before we go back to the Commission, the EPP grouping still came in first across Europe despite a hefty drop in support, the liberal ALDE grouping made good gains, as did the Greens and the populist parties of the far right.

The S&D grouping socialists also lost support but will hold on to second place. However, with 751 seats up for grabs and the EPP and S&D looking like grabbing plus-or-minus 330, they will surely have to look to the centralist-liberal coalition, led by French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (projection 108), who will come in third, and the Greens.

Macron may well be a little upset that Marine Le Pen’s RN group has beaten his Renaissance party – only just, but a win’s a win – there is comfort for many that far-right populist and anti-EU groups didn’t really build on their successes of last time out.

On top of this, if the UK does eventually leave, so then will Mr Farage’s party with its 30+ seats.

It is a fact that plenty of sitting MEPs will have lost their seats and, doubtless, will blame their parties overall. But, lest we forget, many citizens have highlighted down the years that deputies often need to do more to distinguish themselves on the issues that count – not least healthcare (and, it appears, the environment/climate change).

Positioning begins for top table at Commission

So, back to the Commission…and the Spitzenkandidaten process. The EPPs Manfred Weber and Timmermansare both aiming to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission president, with lead candidate Weber saying “There is no stable majority against the EPP possible. My message is ‘join the EPP’,” as well his statement that: “As the biggest group, we have the right to take leadership.”

But there is plenty of manoeuvring to come, with the liberal grouping talking about a “‘new balance of power” which, they say, “calls for a Commission president candidate that can build a robust majority way beyond the partisan lines.”

Who can they mean? Their leader in the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt? Certainly not Weber, it seems. Time will tell…

National fall out from the EU elections?

In the wake of the polls, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a general election after his far-left Syriza party took about 24% of the vote in the EU elections, while the opposition won 33%.

And in Italy, Matteo Salvinis far-right League looks set to claim around one-third of the vote, with coalition partner the 5Star Movement heading for third place on +/- 17%. As it turns out, the Democratic Party will split the pair with a likely 24%. Some are predicting the end of the current government within weeks.

Meanwhile, it appears that two-thirds of people in the Republic of Ireland are in favour of unifyingwith Northern Ireland, a statistic that came about after exit-poll questioning during the elections.

In Belgium, the far-right Vlaams Belang did very well in Sunday’s triple election, with half the country swinging to the right (Flanders). However, in the south of Belgium (Wallonia) there was a swing to the left.

And in Romania, there was a huge vote for ‘No’ in a non-binding referendum on whether the government should be allowed to offer pardons and amnesties in corruption cases, and more.

President Klaus Iohannis, who called for the referendum, addressed Romanians after the result saying: “This is a clear vote for correct politics, for true justice. No politician can ignore your clear vote for an independent judiciary.” 

HTA

EAPM’ long-time supporter and doctor Peter Liese, looks on course to be back in the hemicycle and to continue to work in health technology assessment (HTA).

it’s coming around fast and the 14 June gathering of health ministers in Luxembourg will see a progress report on the HTA proposal as well as discussions around using EU funds to support health investments.

In other news…

The Competitiveness Council meets today (Monday), with ministers responsible for industry expected to adopt conclusions on an ‘EU Industrial Policy Strategy: A Vision for 2030’.

This will be followed tomorrow by research ministers flagging up research as a “driving force for a more competitive” EU.

And in the world of ‘med-tech’, it’s now just a year until the EU’s new laws on medical device regulations come into force, with plenty still to be sorted out before that happens.

Meanwhile, regarding price transparency, a public discussion of Italys transparency resolution has been scheduled for today, as the World Health Assembly continues.

It’s really all about disclosing the cost of clinical trials, and the word is that NGOs wanting lower prices for pharmaceuticals are set to be a little bit disappointed, if not actually surprised.

The week continues…

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