Friday

27th Apr 2018

Focus

Merkel: 'I don't decide who gets the Commission post'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday (26 May) downplayed the chances of Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the next Commission president, as she emphasised that a majority is needed in both the European Parliament and among member states.

Speaking to press in Berlin alongside the German top MEP candidate for her party (CDU), David McAllister, Merkel first thanked him for the good result the CDU scored in the EU elections – 35.3 percent together with its Bavarian sister party, CSU.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Merkel is cautious about the chances for Juncker to get the EU commission job (Photo: President of the European Council)

She also thanked Juncker for the "good campaign" he ran for the European People's Party, but seemed slightly irritated by the avalanche of questions as to whether she backs Juncker to become the next EU commission president.

"I don't decide who gets the post. Juncker is our candidate, the EPP candidate, and we will put his name forward in the discussions. It's always been said that it's up to the strongest group to put forward the candidate, but just being the strongest group is not enough, a majority is required," she said.

For a commission candidate – a so-called Spitzenkandidat – to get the post, a majority of 376 MEPs is needed, as well as a 'qualified majority' in the Council, where bigger member states have a weightier vote. Britain and Hungary have already rejected Juncker's candidateship.

Merkel downplayed expectations of EU leaders discussing names or seeing who could get a council majority, when they meet in Brussels on Tuesday.

"It's not like each head of government will be questioned about what name they back, but rather about giving a mandate for Herman Van Rompuy to start negotiations with the European Parliament and member states," she said.

Merkel expects the negotiations to last at least a month, with Van Rompuy set to "report back" to leaders at the 26-27 June summit.

She also suggested the commission chief may be part of a broader 'names package' – a reference to the other top posts up for grabs this year: Van Rompuy's successor, the foreign policy czar and the European Parliament chief.

Her emphasis on the lengthy negotiations and the focus on "policy priorities" rather than names reflects a disagreement within her own government coalition, with the Social Democratic Party backing Juncker's rival, Martin Schulz.

SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel, who is set to meet Merkel later on Monday, said during a separate press conference that the next commission president should be one of the two Spitzenkandidaten.

"We are convinced that nobody who hasn't been a Spitzenkandidat in these elections will or should get a majority in the European Parliament," he said.

Gabriel acknowledged Juncker's right to be the first to seek a majority, given that the EPP won most seats. But he noted that without the backing of the Social Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament, Juncker will not be able to gather the 376 votes he needs.

"I will propose for Schulz to be the negotiator of the Social Democrats. It is all right for Van Rompuy to lead the negotiations, but on policies it should be up to Juncker and Schulz to discuss and see who gets a majority in the EP," Gabriel said.

If Juncker fails to gather a parliamentary majority on "policies and his person", it would be up to Schulz to try, Gabriel added.

He also called on the EPP to exclude Silvio Berlusconi's nationalist Forza Italia and Hungary's ruling party Fidesz for running "anti-European campaigns".

"If they kick them out it wouldn't mean that we then say we are the biggest group and our candidate should take the commission. In fairness we would still negotiate on policies and try to reach a deal. It's not like we will try to become the largest group through the back door," Gabriel said.

He noted that the the European Socialists (PES) suspended an "eastern European" party due to its nationalist behaviour. Back in 2006, PES suspended the Slovak Smer party from its ranks because it entered a coalition with the far-right Slovak National Party.

Hungarian PM breaks ranks on Juncker

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he will not support Jean-Claude Juncker's bid to become president of the European Commission even if the European People's Party wins the European elections.

EU leaders decline to endorse Juncker

Leaders have tasked Van Rompuy with exploring who could fill the EU top posts and get an EP majority, with consultations to last at least until the end of June.

Merkel endorses Juncker after all

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her first clear endorsement of Jean-Claude Juncker to become the next president of the EU commission, after criticism back home about EU leaders ignoring the democratic process.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  2. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  3. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  6. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  7. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  9. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  10. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  11. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  12. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off

Latest News

  1. EU tells platforms to sort fake news by October or face new law
  2. Civil society chief: social media can't replace engagement
  3. The reality behind the €7 'Brexit bombshell visa'
  4. Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget
  5. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  6. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  7. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs
  8. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  2. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  6. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  9. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  10. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  11. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  12. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe