Wednesday

25th May 2016

Focus

EU leaders to review 'Spitzenkandidat' process

  • Van Rompuy (c): 'Is everybody happy with the procedure? That is something else' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU leaders have said they plan to review the way they choose EU commission presidents in the future after having found themselves left with little room for manoeuvre following a parliament-pushed process.

Shortly after nominating Jean-Claude Juncker to be head of the EU executive, leaders agreed conclusions indicating they want to derail the Spitzenkandidat system.

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.

"Once the new European Commission is effectively in place the European Council will consider the process for the appointment of the president of the European Commission for the future, respecting the European treaties," the statement says.

Under the Spitzenkandidat system, used for the first time this year, the top candidate of the most popular party after the EU vote - in this case Juncker of the centre-right EPP - is nominated for the post.

It represents a stretching of the wording in the EU treaty, which only binds EU leaders to take election results into account.

However, leaders are also aware that they contributed to this being the first EU summit where they had no free hand to choose a commission president.

They went along with the process of political parties nominating candidates only to see it taking off and becoming more cemented as the various candidates attended debates and toured member states, while presenting themselves as running for office.

This meant that Juncker was nominated although leaders had privately expressed concern about whether he is the right person for the job.

EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy, himself an opponent of the system, acknowledged this dilemma after the summit.

"Most of the leaders belonged to European parties and they were involved in the process of appointing future candidates for the European Commission. So we have to take this into account. And this was also reflected in the discussions," he said.

But he added: "Is everybody happy with the procedure? That is something else."

British PM David Cameron, who led a strong campaign against Juncker, said "this process developed a momentum of its own. We need to ask ourselves how this happened."

He added that the dynamics of the system means it is "impossible" to choose a sitting head of state, "we have to wait for someone who has retired".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who from the outset was against the new system but retreated in the face of a backlash by domestic press, also said the issue would have to be revisited.

However the European Parliament was jubilant, indicating that it is likely to cement the Spitzenkandidat process when it comes to the next EU election in 2019.

"Juncker's proposal to be next Commission President marks a turning point for European democracy," said the EP's current chief Gianni Pittella.

“The voice of the European citizens has been heard," said the centre-right EPP party chairman, Manfred Weber, with many parliamentarians noting the 2014 vote for the first time provided a much-needed link between EU citizens and Brussels by politicising the selection process.

EUobserved

Death by 'hearings'

The hearings, the hearings. It's all about the hearings. Please make it stop. Or should that be start?

News in Brief

  1. Technical witness tells EP diesel cheating not necessary
  2. Poland presents 'solutions' to constitutional crisis
  3. Greek bailout without IMF not an option, says Dijsselbloem
  4. Germany's Bayer makes offer to buy US giant Monsanto
  5. Greece evacuates Idomeni migrant camp
  6. Austria: far-right candidate defeated
  7. EU boosts Mediterranean naval campaign
  8. Greece to evacuate Idomeni migrant camp

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  2. Innovators Under 35Meet MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 Award Recipients from Belgium on 25 May, 6pm
  3. Open EuropeJoin the Brussels Brexit Debate on Wednesday, 25 May at 5:00 PM
  4. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  5. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  6. CEDEC - Covenant of MayorsWebinar on 25 May - Electric Vehicles Development: The Role of Local Entities
  7. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  10. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan
  11. World VisionCash-based Programming to Address Hunger in South Sudan:
  12. Belgrade Security ForumOpen Call for Applications! Join the Events Team at the 6th Belgrade Security Forum.

Latest News

  1. Austria vote is wake-up call for EU left
  2. Poland vows solution to judicial crisis
  3. Terrorists likely stockpiling explosives in EU, says Europol
  4. EU navies to help Libya coastguard stop migrants
  5. Merkel casts doubt on Turkey visa-free travel
  6. EU and Poland in last minute talks on rule of law
  7. Tough challenges ahead for Austria's president
  8. Search for VW compensation larger in EU than in US