24th Oct 2016


EU top candidates debate twice this WEEK

  • The Brussels debate will take place in the renovated plenary room (Photo: European Parliament)

Campaigning for the EU elections gets in full swing this week, with two debates scheduled among the four top candidates for the European Commission: Jean-Claude Juncker from the centre-right European People's Party, Martin Schulz from the Socialists, Guy Verhofstadt from the Liberals and the Green Ska Keller, the only woman contender.

On Monday (28 April) the Dutch town of Maastricht will host the first of the debates, which will be broadcast by Euronews, the pan-European news channel, from 19.00 local time.

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The quartet will have another debate on Tuesday in the European Parliament. The debate will be webstreamed live on Euranet, a network of 15 European radio stations, from 14.30 local time.

There will be four more debates ahead of the EU elections on 25 May, with leftist top candidate Alexis Tsipras joining the four other top candidates in the last one, scheduled to take place in Brussels on 15 May. The Greens' other top candidate, Jose Bove, is meeting Juncker, Schulz and Verhofstadt on 9 May in Florence. Juncker and Schulz also have two separate head-to-head debates on German public TV.

The debates and the campaigning by the would-be commission presidents are a novelty prompted by the Lisbon Treaty which says EU leaders have to take the result of the EU elections into account when nominating a candidate. Several EU political families have interpreted this to mean that candidate of the party that wins the most seats in the European Parliament should become commission president.

In other news, EU diplomats on Monday are expected to expand the sanctions list against Russian officials close to President Vladmir Putin, in reaction to the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

Employment ministers meanwhile are meeting for a two-day informal session in Athens Monday and Tuesday.

The outgoing head of the EU commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, is travelling to the US Thursday and Friday, with meetings scheduled in the US Senate, with the head of the Supreme Court and with Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. He will first visit Berlin, on Tuesday, to coordinate with Chancellor Angela Merkel who is also travelling to Washington on Thursday.

EU council chief Van Rompuy is travelling to the Czech Republic and Slovakia on Wednesday, with the EU institutions closed on Thursday for May Day.

Spain's Socialists ease Rajoy's path to power

The Socialists agree to abstain in a confidence vote later this week, meaning conservative leader Mariano Rajoy should be able to form a minority government after 10 months of deadlock.

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