28th Oct 2016

Poland calls for job interviews for EU top appointments

Poland has made a bid to give smaller EU countries more power in the EU president selection process by calling for candidates to hold job interviews in front of the 27 EU leaders.

"It is proposed that the election of the future President of the European Council is preceded by a discussion of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States during which the candidates would present their vision of how their tasks would be conducted," Warsaw has said in a fresh position paper seen by EUobserver.

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  • The Polish model could see Belgium's Herman van Rompuy, a popular candidate, grilled by EU leaders (Photo: European Council)

The appointment of the new EU foreign relations chief should follow the same format, but with the 27 EU foreign ministers also brought in to the chamber.

The Polish proposal underlined that under the Lisbon Treaty the final decision is to be made by a qualified majority vote, in which every EU country has a say in proportion to the size of its population.

"The approval procedure should be as transparent and democratic as possible. This will enhance the consensus surrounding those candidates who are eventually chosen," it explained.

The ideas were circulated to EU capitals on Monday (9 November), amid expectations that the Swedish EU presidency will shortly call a summit to decide the two appointments and the make-up of the new EU commission.

Popular wisdom has it that the top jobs will be decided in a classic EU stitch-up between Germany, France and the UK, with each time any of the big leaders meet for a bilateral dinner prompting speculation that a secret deal is being made.

Smaller states such as the Benelux countries have already made their mark by calling for a modest, chairman-like EU president instead of an international big-hitter however, in a line of thinking publicly approved by Berlin.

EU officials, no matter how senior, are in theory loyal only to Brussels and the EU treaties.

But top appointments are a matter of national prestige, while individual politicians with deep roots in national administrations in practice co-operate more closely with former colleagues and channel information more readily to their old friends.

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