Thursday

17th Oct 2019

Agenda

EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK

  • European elections widely predicted to show a rise in populist MEPs - and a slump for the centrist parties (Photo: Peter Teffer)

The European elections and their consequences will immediately dominate news and gossip in Brussels and around the national capitals next week.

The race for the new EU top positions will kick off the minute the final vote is cast on Sunday.

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On Sunday (26 May) night results from all over Europe will trickle in after 11pm and the tussle between the parliament and national leaders will begin on who should nominate the president for the EU commission.

The parliament will want to make sure that EU leaders will stick to one of their lead candidates - Spitzenkandidaten - who came from one of the big European political alliances by managing to build a majority in the new parliament.

Early exit polls from the Netherlands, where voters last Thursday seemed to have favoured the Socialists - could give a boost to other left-wing candidates in EU countries, as the centre-right European People's Party, which have dominated EU politics for decades - struggles to hold onto the steering wheel.

So far EPP lead candidate Manfred Weber has seemed the "unavoidable" candidate for the EU Commission presidency. But with the UK participating in the EU elections and a possible boost at the ballot for socialists and liberals could upset the maths.

The story of the night is expected to be the surge in the number of populist and nationalist MEPs from across Europe who pledged to change from the EU from within, while a shrinking mainstream struggles to hold onto the centre.

Heads of government will also keep a keen eye on the results of the unexpected European election in the UK, where the new Brexit Party of MEP Nigel Farage is polling to come first, and Theresa May having already announced her resignation on Friday.

EU national leaders will insist that their hands are not tied by the Spitzenkandidate process, and can come up with anybody - as they also weigh in on who should lead other EU institutions, such as the European Council and the European Central Bank.

Both sides will want to control the selection process. The leaders of parliamentary groups will meet on Tuesday (28 May) after the elections to defend their process - which was only used for the first time in 2014 and is struggling for legitimacy.

EU leaders will get together in Brussels for an informal summit later the same day to discuss the results, and possibly try to void the whole process by renewing their belief that there is no "automaticity" between the election results in the Spitzenkandidaten process and their choice.

While negotiations on coalitions and possible new EU leaders will kick off after the election, next week is unlikely to bring tangible results.

Parliamentary groups have until 26 June to form in order to clinch committee and other positions in the parliament before its first sitting in Strasbourg on 2 July.

In the meantime, the EU day-to-day business will carry on. Foreign and trade ministers are meeting on Monday (27 May) to discuss EU-Us trade relations and reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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The centre-right's Manfred Weber got most of the heat at the EU Commission presidential candidates' final debate before the European elections, while Frans Timmermans reached out to a possible coalition partners - piling more pressure on Weber's EPP.

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Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans looks like the big winner in the first exit poll from the 2019 European Parliament election. British voters also cast their ballots amid predictions their prime minister is about to fall.

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