Who is the new president of the European Parliament?

63-year-old Italian conservative Antonio Tajani was elected on Tuesday after he won 351 votes following four rounds of voting.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The European Parliament will have the final say on whether to approve a Brexit deal with the UK.

Who is Antonio Tajani?

Tajani, 63, is an ally of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and a familiar face in European Union politics. Tajani was one of the founders of Berlusconi's Forza Italia party before he joined the European People's Party (EPP).

He is a four-time member and current vice-president of the European Parliament. Previously he was Italy's European commissioner for two consecutive terms. Tajani has faced criticism over the Volkswagen emissions scandal for not carrying out his duty as the industry commissioner. 

On Tuesday, Tajani defeated Italian centre-left leader Gianni Pittella by securing 351 votes against Pitella’s 282 in a rare fourth-round run-off.

His victory comes after Tajani wooed the support of the ruling conservative parties of Britain and Poland, which are critical of the EU for impinging on national sovereignty. However, Tajani does not see breaking up the EU as a solution.

According to the Guardian, Tajani's centre-right party and the liberals, led by Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, also made a deal to combine forces for the election of the top post. The deal includes securing the latter’s post as the Brexit representative for the European Parliament.

The outgoing president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz congratulated Tajani when his victory become clear as results were announced in Strasbourg on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Who did he succeed?

He will take over power from Martin Schulz, who is a German Social Democrat. Schulz served as president of the European Parliament from August 2014 to January 2017.

Schulz has maintained a firm tone on Brexit. He repeatedly called on the British government to not drag its feet regarding its decision to leave the EU but also argued freedom of movement of goods and services was not acceptable without free movement of people.

Schulz will stand for his party in the 2017 elections and could even enter the race to challenge Angela Merkel.

What is the European Parliament?

The European Parliament is a directly-elected EU body with legislative, supervisory, and budgetary responsibilities. It has the power to adopt and amend legislative proposals related to a variety of topics ranging from immigration to trade.

The parliament is formed by over 700 members from 28 European states.The parliament cooperates with the national parliaments of EU countries to get their input.

It has a major role in electing the president of the European Commission and supervises the work of the commission, which has the mandate to write laws.

The members of the parliament are elected by EU voters every five years. The parliament is the only directly elected body of the EU and represents citizens of the EU.

The EPP is the largest group in the parliament. 

TRTWorld and agencies