Gualtieri out, Tinagli in: Meet the European’ Parliament’s new powerful ECON chair

ABBL Published 20.09.2019

The European Parliament’s committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs – in short ECON – is the parliamentary committee where financial services legislation is decided at EU level, together with the Member States meeting in the Council of Ministers. Roberto Gualtieri, an Italian socialist had been leading the ECON committee for the last five years. He seemed set to continue doing so for at least another two and a half years when reelected in July. But as often in life, things don’t always go as expected.

On Monday 16 September, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs had to elect a new Chair. What happened? Roberto Gualtieri had in the meantime been nominated Minister of Finance in the new Italian government. The news of his departure from the European Parliament had spread since the end of August, when there has been a political crisis within Salvini’s cabinet. Indeed, at the first ECON Committee’s meeting after the summer pause, the session was chaired by the Vice-Chair Niedermayer (EPP, CZ), while Gualtieri was in Italy discussing the composition of the new government.

The political groups were prompt to nominate a new person to take the post of Gualtieri and, on the first day of plenary in Strasbourg, the ECON committee gathered and elected by acclamation Irene Tinagli, like Gualtieri an Italian socialist. What is striking is her relatively young age (45) and her first mandate in the European Parliament. Nevertheless, Ms Tinagli is considered to have considerable potential and relevant experience.  In 2010, she was nominated Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and a Young European Leader in 2012. She has also been included in the “40under40” list in Europe. She also brings the experience from a previous mandate at the Italian Parliament. Tinagli has a long professional career in areas dedicated to employment and entrepreneurship. Indeed, she holds a PhD in Public Policies and she seemed to have the necessary experience to successively fulfill the mandate at the ECON Committee.

The proposal to invest her in the ECON Chair position has come from Gualtieri himself, but it must be underlined that the decision to elect another Italian MEP of the S&D group is justified by the very thin equilibrium governing the allocation of the European Parliament’s Committees. Looking at the broader spectrum, the distribution of power between the different political groups had to be respected. Hence, the Chair was assigned to the S&D group, which holds other five Chairs among the Committees. Then, within the S&D group itself, the Italian delegation should have maintained a leading position, due to its political weight, second only to the Spanish delegation. So, the candidate reflecting these characteristics was quasi mechanically Tinagli.

The way Irene Tinagli came to the chairmanship does not mean that she will not be a good ECON chair. She seems to have the intellectual capabilities and the work ethos. A clear precedent comes to mind. Five years ago, a certain Roberto Gualtieri landed the chairmanship of the same committee. At the time a complete unknown in ECON and in financial services legislation, and nevertheless considered nowadays a safe hand… Only the future will tell what kind of chair Mrs Tinagli will be.

By Silvia De Iacovo – ABBL & ALFI Representative Office in Brussels

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