Conservative South West MEP Giles Chichester was elected by acclamation as a Vice-President of the European Parliament and said his appointment gives “prestige and status [to the region] in a way that we haven’t had for many years now”. His nomination was unopposed.
Mr Chichester, who was first elected to Parliament in 1994, replaces the ALDE member Silvana Koch-Mehrin who resigned her position as Vice-President following accusations she plagiarised her university thesis.
“I’m absolutely delighted – it’s very nice to be elected by acclaim and I’ve very proud to become a Vice-President of a significant office within the Parliament,” he told radioep.com shortly after the announcement.
“I’d like to think it gives prestige and status to us [South West] in a way that we haven’t had for some time now. There hasn’t been a Vice-President from the South West since I’ve been in the Parliament – which is rather a long time now – but in material terms I’m not sure I can say exactly how it might benefit the South West, but I shall look for opportunities to do so.
“[This appointment] gives you more status and perhaps this will get me quicker answers from the Commission for my constituents’ concerns,” he pondered. “No, maybe not, the Commission won’t change.
“I nurture a hope to run the votes in the Chamber, to do it on time and keep my colleagues happy as a result”, he confessed. “But I’m at the bottom of the hierarchy of Vice-Presidents so I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance.”
Mr Chichester is expected to assume the responsibilities of his predecessor Ms Koch-Mehrin, who as a Vice-President served as an ex officio panel member of the Parliament’s own Science and Technology Options Assessment unit (STOA) and was charged with liaising with national parliaments on behalf of the European Parliament.
There are currently 14 vice-presidency positions, four of which are now occupied by British MEPs. In the past it was usual for agreements to be struck between the groups when dividing up the posts, which saw candidates elected without formal opposition.
But this time it threatened to be different following the actions of Edward McMillan-Scott, another Vice-President who was selected as an ECR member but later crossed the floor to the ALDE group mid-mandate .
Some reports suggested ALDE would consider fielding another candidate, but they appear to have decided against doing so allowing the ECR’s Chichester to be elected unopposed.
The Greek Socialist MEP Anni Podimata was also nominated unopposed to replace Stavros Lambrinidis, who has left the parliament to become foreign minister of Greece.
(Quotes from audio produced by Quadrant for UK radio stations used with kind permission.)