Friday

16th Nov 2018

Focus

Juncker given first shot at EU commission job

  • Juncker's ambition to become the next European commission president was boosted on Tuesday (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Rival European party leaders on Tuesday (27 May) gave centre-right Jean-Claude Juncker first shot at becoming the next European Commission president.

Socialist group leader Hannes Swoboda in a statement said the conference of presidents, a meeting of leaders of the European Parliament's political groups, back the former Luxembourg prime minister in order to start negotiations to seek a majority in the 751-seated assembly.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Described as a Brussels insider and a federalist, Juncker was chosen because he hails from the largest political group in the European Parliament, the centre-right EPP. Elections results handed the party 213 seats, 23 ahead of its closest rival the centre-left S&D.

The announcement does not mean the major groups explicitly endorse him just yet. All say Juncker must come forward with policies they can endorse.

But it does mean that the European Council, composed of the EU's heads of state and government, can now either back or reject Juncker's nomination to replace current commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

The Strasbourg assembly has over the months piled pressure on the European Council to select one of the MEP 'Spitzenkandidaten', noting that the Lisbon Treaty requires member states to "take into account" the elections.

But there is concern member states may instead put forward an entirely different candidate, raising the spectre of a future clash between the two institutions.

"We will insist as leaders of the group that only one who presented himself as a leading candidate in the campaign will get the support for being the president of the European Commission. No doubt on this," Green party leader Rebecca Harms told this website.

A parliament statement handed over to EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy ahead of Tuesday's informal dinner among heads of state in Brussels, references the treaty articles on the selection process.

For his part, German centre-left Martin Schulz and current EP president has not given up his bid to get Barroso's job.

Schulz said he is next in line should Juncker fail to muster up enough support from the assembly. Juncker must obtain the approval of at least 376 of the 751 MEPs, if formally endorsed by the Council.

"If Juncker will not get a mandate, the next one should get the mandate, that's me," he said.

But there could be complications.

Belgian Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said the 376 margin in favour is not good enough.

Instead, his group intends to back the nominee who can guarantee a "stable majority" in the parliament.

"A stable majority means more than 400 without having to rely on political parties like those of (Hungarian PM) Orban or former Italian PM Berlusconi," he said.

The idea is to make it even more difficult for the incoming eurosceptics to derail legislation.

Nigel Farage's eurosceptic political group, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), and the British Conservative European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) opposed Juncker's nomination.

The remaining groups, representing at least 561 members in the new legislature, backed him.

Schulz in danger of being shut out from EU top jobs

Socialist Spitzenkandidat Martin Schulz is in danger of being shut out of the top jobs in the EU institutions, just weeks after polls suggested he could be in the running for European Commission chief.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us