Bios of Co-Chairs
MEP Caterina Chinnici, S&D, Italy
Caterina Chinnici was born in Palermo. She graduated in law at 21 years old, becoming the youngest magistrate in Italy to be appointed as Chief Prosecutor of a Public Prosecutor´s office.
Over the course of her career as a judge, Caterina Chinnici served as Chief Public Prosecutor of the Juvenile Court of Palermo, as member of the Commission for international adoptions and member of the Central Body for the protection of unaccompanied children established by the Italian Minister of Interior.
In 2009, Caterina served as Councillor in charge of Family, Social Policies and Local Autonomy in the Government of the autonomous Region of Sicily. In 2012, she headed the Department for Juvenile Justice of the Italian Minister of Justice.
In May 2014, Caterina Chinnici was elected Member of the European Parliament and co-founded the Children’s Rights Intergroup, which she has been co-chairing ever since its establishment in 2014.
During the 2014 – 2019 parliamentary term, Caterina Chinnici was the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Directive 800/2016 on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings, adopted on 9 March 2016. In addition, she was the Socialist and Democrats spokesperson on the Directive on combating terrorism and on the European Parliament Report on prisons and system conditions.
MEP David Lega, EPP, Sweden
David Lega is a Swedish politician and Member of the European Parliament since 2019. He serves on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the subcommittee on Human Rights.
David began his Paralympian swimming career when he was 12 years old. During the course of his career, he proceeded to win several World Championship gold medals and received the ’Triumph of the Human Spirit’ award in the Atlanta Paralympic Games 1996.
After retiring from swimming, he started a successful career as a public speaker and an entrepreneur. He was awarded with”The Outstanding Young Person of the World” in 2004. Previous honorees include Orson Welles, John F. Kennedy and Elvis Presley.
According to David, he had “the fortune of being born at the exact right time and place” to live a good life. This feeling sparked his commitment to give back to society, and has become something of a red thread in his political career.
Upon being elected as a Member of the European Parliament, David pledged to be the voice of the people who have the most difficulties in being heard. He therefore use his platform in the European Parliament for this purpose and has participated in numerous events for improving children’s rights. Being co-chair of the Intergroup for Children’s Rights he intends to ensure that the child perspective is integrated into the legislative work and that all children’s voices are being heard.
MEP Hilde Vautmans, Renew Europe, Belgium
Hilde Vautmans is a Belgian Member of the European Parliament. She is member of the liberal-centrist Renew Europe Group, the successor to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and currently the third largest group in the European Parliament. Vautmans entered the European Parliament in January 2015 and was re-elected as Member of European Parliament during the May 2019 elections.
Vautmans is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) and the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (DACP). As a substitute, she is a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (AGRI), the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) and the Delegation for relations with Japan (D-JP). Vautmans is also Chair of the MEP Horse Group, Chair of the MEP Group for Kidney Health, Co-Chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights and Vice-President of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup.
In the European Parliament, Hilde Vautmans is foreign affairs coordinator for the Renew Europe Group and acts as delegation leader of Open Vld, the Flemish liberal political party.
Vautmans started her political career at the office of, then Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, advising him in the fields of foreign and military affairs, external aid and equal opportunities. She was during two legislatures Member of the Belgian House of Representatives, while being the group leader of Open Vld for a while. She switched to being the secretary-general of Open Vld in the House of Representatives and from there on joined the EP.
She combines her office as MEP with being an alderwoman in the City of Sint-Truiden, responsible for education, youth, agriculture and tourism. She is the mother of two children, Amani and Sambo and partner of Sam.
MEP Evin INCIR, S&D, Sweden
Evin Incir is a Swedish Social Democrat with Kurdish roots. Grown up in the suburb of Bergsjön in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
She is a Member of the European Parliament since 2019 and is serving on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Development and Committee on Foreign affairs. In addition to her committee assignments, Evin is part of the Parliament’s delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur in charge of the relations with Palestine and a member of the LGBTI Intergroup. She is also a co-president of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI).
Evin if the former Secretary General of International Union of Socialist Youth and former Deputy International Secretary of the Swedish Social Democratic Party of Sweden. Evin fights to promote democracy, equality and feminism in Europa and beyond.
MEP Antonio López-Istúriz White, EPP, Spain
Antonio López-Istúriz White is Secretary General of the European People’s Party (EPP) and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), representing the Spanish centre-right People’s Party (Partido Popular). He is also Secretary Treasurer of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES) and the Secretary General of the Centrist Democrat International (IDC-CDI). He is a member of the Committee on Rights and Guarantees of PP.
López-Istúriz White has been in Brussels since 1997, when he worked as an assistant to the People’s Party delegation at the European Parliament. He held this position until 1999, when he was called by then-President of the Spanish Government José María Aznar to become his personal advisor for almost four years. In 2002, he returned to Brussels upon his election as Secretary General of the European People’s Party. Two years later, he was elected on his party’s list as MEP, and he has held both offices since then. In January 2008, López-Istúriz White was elected Secretary Treasurer of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies.
He currently sits on the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection and is a substitute on the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and its Subcommittee on Security and Defense. López-Istúriz White is also a Member of the Delegation for relations with the United States, the Delegation for relations with Israel and the Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean. He is also President of the European Union-United Arab Emirates (UAE) Parliamentary Friendship Group.
He is also board member of the ANAR Foundation that helps adolescents at risk and Aequitas Foundation providing free legal advice for less favored groups or in need of better social protection.
López-Istúriz White is a recipient of the 2013 Parliamentarian Prize Eurodiputado del Año (MEP of the Year) awarded by the Asociación de Periodistas Parlamentarios (Spanish Parliamentarian Journalists Association). He holds a bachelor degree in Law and studies in Economics. In addition to Spanish, he speaks English, French, Italian and Mallorquin. He is married and has two daughters.
MEP Laurence Farreng, Renew Europe, France
Laurence Farreng was elected French Member of the European Parliament in May 2019. She is currently the coordinator of her political group (Renew Europe) for the Culture, Education, Youth and Sports Committee. She is also a substitute for the Regional Development Committee, and a member of the delegation of the European Parliament for the relations with India.
She is responsible for her political group for the negotiations for the Erasmus + 2021-2027 programme, and author of a report on the integration of European education and culture programmes into the Green Deal.
Born in the South of France (Nîmes), Laurence Farreng had a long career in Communication strategy consulting agencies, during which she worked with local public institutions and organisms. Before her election, she was Director of Communications for the City of Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques). She has been elected last year (2019) city counsellor in Pau.
MEP Javier Moreno Sánchez, S&D, Spain
Javier Moreno Sánchez is a Spanish politician who has served as Member of the European Parliament for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party from 2004 until 2009 and since 2019, part of the Party of European Socialists. Since November 1, 2014, he has been the Secretary General of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats.
In his first term as Member of the European Parliament, Moreno served on the Committee on International Trade (2004–2007) and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (2007–2009). In addition to his committee assignments, he was a member of the Parliament’s delegation for relations with Mercosur.
Since the 2019 European elections, Moreno has been leading the Spanish delegation within the S&D Group. In addition, he again joined the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
MEP Dragos Pislaru, Renew Europe, Romania
An economist by heart, Dragoș holds a PhD in ecomomics at the National Economic Research Institute (INCE) of the Romanian Academy and an MA in International Relations from the London School of Economics.
He worked as a researcher, professor, consultant and successful entrepreneur, eventually serving as Romania’s Minister for Labour. He helped kickstart numerous international projects on social affairs, rural development, social policy, labour markets and digitalization, among other topics and ran one of the first start-up accelerators in Romania.
He is a firm believer in evidence-driven policy and in lifelong learning and upskilling as vital components for a healthy labour market and a prosperous economy. Dragoș is current Member of the European Parliament, where is coordinating the work of the Renew Europe Group in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, while at the same time is following economic affairs, being most recently the EP Co-rapporteur on the Recovery and Resilience Facility. As a father of four boys, he is dedicated to the fight against child poverty and wants to champion the cause of EU support for children and youth.
MEP Michaela Šojdrová, EPP, Czech Republic
Michaela Šojdrová is a Member of the European Parliament (EPP Group, CZ – KDU-ČSL) since 2014, currently serving in the Committee on Culture and Education and in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
During 2010-2014 Ms Šojdrová worked as Director of Department of External Relations at the Czech School Inspectorate and as Representative of the Ministry for Education, Youth and Sports to the OECD. Between 1996-2010 Michaela Šojdrová served as Member of Parliament of the Czech Republic representing Christian democrats (KDU-ČSL), holding the position of Vice-Chair of the Committee for Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.
Michaela Šojdrová has been awarded French “Order of Merit” for significant contribution to the Czech-French relations. Her life-long activities include various youth programmes such as scouting, volunteering, education and protection of children rights.
MEP Milan Brglez, S&D, Slovenia
Milan Brglez is a Slovenian political scientist, politician, and the former Speaker of the National Assembly of Slovenia. He has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since 2019. He is a member of the Social Democrats, part of the Party of European Socialists.
Brglez graduated in political science at the Faculty of Social, Political Sciences and Journalism, University of Ljubljana, and completed his masters in International law at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana. He obtained his PhD in International Relations, specialising in theory of International Relations with thesis entitled “The Meaning of Non-Positivist Epistemological and Realist Ontological Assumptions for Theorising International Relations and International Relations Research Methodologies”.
In 2014, Brglez entered national politics when he joined the newly established Party of Miro Cerar (SMC, in 2015 renamed to Modern Centre Party). He served as vice president of the party. At the parliamentary election in July 2014, Brglez was elected to the National Assembly, where SMC won plurality with 36 out of 90 seats. On the 1st of August, he was elected as the Speaker of the National Assembly, thus succeeding Janko Veber of the Social Democrats. In the 2018 election Brglez was re-elected to the National Assembly with the SMC party. However following some disagreements with party officials, Brglez announced on the 26th of June 2018, that he had been expelled from the party. The official decision on his exlusion has still not been given to date. In November 2018, he joined the Social Democrats.
From 2018 to 2019 he was Deputy Chair of the Committee on European Union Affairs and a member of the Committee of Foreign Policy and Committee on Education, Science, Sport and Youth. Following the 2019 European election in May 2019, he became a Member of the European Parliament from Slovenia on the list of Social Democrats. He is a member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, and substitute member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
Emilio Puccio, Intergroup Coordinator
Emilio Puccio is the Coordinator of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights, which is a cross-party and cross-national group comprising over 100 MEPs and 25 child-focused organizations, with the aim of mainstreaming children’s rights in all EU policies and legislation.
Emilio also sits in the advisory board of the Better Internet for Kids initiative (BIK)- supported by the European Commission – whose mission is to foster – through the BIK core service platform – the exchange of knowledge, expertise, resources and best practices between key online safety stakeholders, including industry representatives. Emilio is also a member of the Judging Panel for the 2020 GSMA Global Mobile Awards (GLOMOs) for the category Best Mobile Initiative for Enhancing Children’s Lives.
Before joining the Intergroup on Children’s Rights, Emilio worked on business and human rights issues in New York City at the United Nations Global Compact and as part of the Individuals at Risk Program at Amnesty International USA. As a qualified lawyer, Emilio served as Administrative & Legal Assistant for two years in the Italian General Consulate in Barcelona.
Emilio holds a Juris Doctor Magna cum laude in Law from the University of Palermo, a Master’s Degree in International Business Management from EADA Business School in Barcelona, and a Master in Diplomatic Studies from the Italian Society for International Organizations (SIOI) in Rome.