Antonio Tajani a former ally of ex-Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is looking like the favourite to become the next European parliament president.

By all accounts Tanjani the current vice president is set to take up the top job after a deal was struck between his centre-right group and the liberals, led by Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit negotiator.

The Deal that Cements Tajani’s Position

On Tuesday the 751 MEPs will vote to elect a new president.  With the combined weight of Tajani’s centre-right party, and Verhofstadt’s liberals, first and fourth largest respectively, it is unlikely another candidate can hope to win.

Tanjani is a former spokesperson for Berlusconi and recently faced criticism for not carrying out his responsibilities in wake of the VW emissions test scandal.  He has always denied knowing that there were problems with the tests despite warnings from colleagues.  He was Italy’s European commissioner for two mandates.

Verhofstadt pulled out of the presidential race this morning.    In exchange for supporting Tanjani, the liberals are believed to have negotiated an agreement to create a “reflection group” on the future of the EU, and a police cooperation committee.

The deal cements Verhofstadt as the EU’s Brexit negotiator.  Both sides feel they need to be involved in negotiations from the start and this secures that position.

Good Deal for Verhofstadt

Verhofstadt describes the deal as “a first important step in the construction of a pro-European coalition to reform and strengthen our union, which is absolutely necessary”.  His first choice of alliance with Beppe Grillo’s populist Five Star Movement fell through after his party chose not to back it.

Belgian MEP Helga Stevens another candidate in the running for EU president continues to be supported by The European Conservatives and Reformists, which is dominated by the British Conservative Party.

Gianni Pittella an Italian MEP running on a socialist mandate is considered to be the biggest loser from the deal.