Bowles keeps batting

British Liberal Democrat Sharon Bowles is expected to keep her role as chair of the European Parliament’s influential economic and monetary affairs committee, MHP Sources Say.

Despite winning cross-party praise for her increasingly high profile role during the economic downturn, Bowles risked losing the coveted position following British Prime Minister David Cameron’s EU veto and the decision by her UK Liberal Democrat colleague Diana Wallis to stand in this week’s election of a new President of the European Parliament.

Wallis infuriated Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt by standing as an independent, putting at risk a political pact he had negotiated with the Parliament’s two largest groups – the centre-right EPP and the Socialists – designed to keep Bowles as head of the Parliament’s most important committee.

But Wallis’ poor showing – finishing last of three candidates – and the overwhelming majority achieved by newly-crowned President, German Socialist Martin Schulz, means that the pact remains intact.

“Schulz’s majority shows that most Liberals stuck to the deal and voted for him, so Sharon will keep her job,” a source close to Bowles said.

Bowles’ retention of the top post is good news for UK business who had feared Cameron’s staunch opposition to a new EU fiscal treaty and a European financial transaction tax, could leave Britain out in the cold and in particular out of the Brussels decision-making process. The European Parliament has co-decision powers in the area of financial regulation and has been flexing its growing sway in recent months, so Bowles will play a key role in finding a compromise on a number of tough dossiers during the second half of the EU semester.