Wednesday

1st Mar 2017

Focus

Centre-right leaders to pick top EU commission candidate

  • Angela Merkel is the only woman leader in the centre-right EPP family (Photo: European People's Party)

European centre right leaders are gathering in Dublin on Thursday and Friday (6-7 March) to select their top candidate for the post of European Commission President.

With the Ukraine crisis taking over the EU agenda and an EU emergency summit on the issue taking place on Thursday in Brussels, the Dublin congress of the European People's Party (EPP) is only due to start later this evening (6 March).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Ukrainian opposition leaders Yulia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko, as well as the newly elected Prime Minister, Arsenyi Yatsenuk, are also expected to attend and speak at the EPP congress – a sign of support and recognition from Europe's largest political family.

Turning to the EU elections on Friday, EPP leaders are set to pick the lead candidate for the EPP – a politician who will appear in televised debates with the top candidates of other political families and possibly have a chance to become the next EU commission president.

According to the Lisbon Treaty that came into force in 2009, government leaders must "take into account" the result of the EU elections when deciding on the Commission President.

This novelty was aimed at making the European Parliament election campaign more engaging and stop the continuously declining turnout trend.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel – seen as the most powerful leader in the EPP group – has already indicated she sees "no automaticity" between the election result and the person to succeed Jose Manuel Barroso at the helm of the EU commission.

And the EPP is indeed the last political family to nominate its candidate.

It has two candidates to choose from: ex-Eurogroup chief and former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and internal market commissioner Michel Barnier. A third, the so-called Baltic candidate, former Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, withdrew his candidacy on Wednesday evening. (5 March).

Juncker, who will turn 60 this year, is tipped as frontrunner. He was the longest-serving Prime Minister in the EU until his resignation last year over failure to control the domestic intelligence service which allegedly was engaged in illegal wiretapping, corruption and stolen cars.

The Luxembourg politician is from the same political generation as former Commission President Jacques Delors and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, both key figures in the 1980s and 1990s. He has openly admitted that he favours "secret, dark debates" rather than too much transparency.

As former Eurogroup chief and member of the EU council, Juncker was instrumental in the way eurozone leaders and finance ministers managed the euro-crisis – notably the bailouts of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain and the accompanying austerity measures.

Another 'veteran' in EU politics is Barnier – a former MEP, commissioner for regional policy, French agriculture, foreign and Europe minister, and currently commissioner for internal market and financial services.

Barnier, who is 63, would be a surprise winner because his country, France, has a Social-Democrat government and no prominent politicians to support him within the EPP.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 20172018 European Year of Cultural Heritage Will Celebrate European History and Values
  2. UNICEFA Deadly Journey for Children: The Migration Route From North Africa to Europe
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsFreedom of Association and Expression Under Threat in Kazakhstan
  4. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Brussels on March 6th
  5. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  7. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  8. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  9. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  10. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow. Join Us on 23 March
  12. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen