The Race for Juncker's Successor at the Helm of the European Commission is Fueling Tensions
The race for successor of Jean-Claude Juncker, heading the European Commission, has already begun. But the EU's twenty-eight member states are still far from agreeing on the rules of the game. Among the possible candidates to replace the Luxembourg representative in the autumn of 2019, the name of the current chief negotiator of the EU for Brexit, the Frenchman Michel Barnier, is most prominent. His candidacy was already under consideration from 2014, but the political family of the European People's Party (EPP, a right-wing formation with a majority in the European Parliament) then chose the current European Commission President.
Juncker was designated as the EPP leading candidate (SPP), for this procedure, which requires the European parties to promote the "leading candidate in the list" for the European elections. The idea of this approach, adopted in 2014, is that the European Commission chairman must become the candidate of the party that led the election. The European Parliament, which appoints the President of the Commission by a vote, wants to use this method again. In doing so, it sees a guarantee of greater transparency and of strengthening its political legitimacy, as well as that of the Commission.
However, European treaties have entrusted Member States with the qualified majority to appoint the candidate for President of the European Commission, though the texts require from them a rather vague look at the " Parliament elections." But many European leaders, headed by Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, are opposed to this method - something they are also expected to remind at the summit in Brussels on 23 February. "In 2014, there was disappointment in many capitals because the procedure leading to the appointment of Juncker was not transparent enough," said a European source. According to some critics, this system has led to politicization of the Commission, which is considered harmful. Others fear the hypothetical rise of Eurosceptic parties in the European elections, which could lead to the election of a candidate from their ranks.
Faced with such ambiguity, MEPs plan to raise the tone of the plenary session in Strasbourg this week. "The European Parliament will reject any candidate for President of the Commission who is not proposed as a" leading candidate "in the European Parliament elections," warned German Manfred Weber, EPP Group Chairman in the European Parliament. And if the governments of the member states try to break this principle, he adds to President Macron, "they will have to explain why despite the great talk about the need for democratic change in Europe they are in practice not willing to give up on opacity and secrecy ".
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