Seat reshuffling at EP
By Ophélie Spanneut | Thursday 05 July 2012
All’s well that ends well for Nora Berra (EPP, France). This former member of the French government has returned to her seat in the European Parliament. She owes her salvation to the 17 June election of fellow French member Damien Abad (EPP, France) to the National Assembly.
EP Vice-President Isabelle Durant (Greens-EFA, Belgium) announced the EP’s new composition at the plenary session, on 2 July. Berra, elected in June 2009 in the South-East constituency and replaced until now by Michel Dantin (EPP, France) while she served as minister, will take up her seat and Dantin will replace Abad, who has resigned.
Under French law, an MP appointed as a minister may hand over the parliamentary seat to his/her alternate and then return to it after leaving the government. But interpretation of this law caused a stir when Brice Hortefeux (EPP, France), who lost his job in a government reshuffling, sought to return to the EP. Alain Lamassourre (EPP, France) argued that the designation of MEPs is a matter for the member states and that the French law applies to the European assembly.
The potential ousting of Dantin to the benefit of Berra rubbed members of the French delegation in the EPP the wrong way. It did not sit well with others either, since different political groups took a dim view of losing a CAP specialist. Dantin, a member of the Committee on Agriculture (AGRI), is rapporteur on the common organisation of the market for agricultural products for 2014-2020. His departure would have come on top of the loss of Stéphane Le Foll (S&D, France), another expert on this subject, who has just stepped down to join the new French government. “The only member supporting the return of Nora Berra was Brice Hortefeux. Damien Abad’s election is a godsend,” said an EP source.
Berra sits on the Committee on International Trade (INTA).