Monday

30th Jan 2023

EU leaders start looking for the next Barroso

  • Horsetrading for EU posts will heat up in spring (Photo: Paolo Camera)

A Nordic Prime Minister, EU veteran Juncker or Social-Democrat star Schulz - there is still a long way to go until the name of the next European Commission president is announced, but EU leaders are already thinking about it.

The issue is set to be informally discussed in the sidelines of the EU summit on 24-25 October.

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Unlike in previous years, this time around leaders will have to hold "appropriate consultations" with the European Parliament on the nomination and take into account the result of the May 2014 EU elections.

EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy travelled to London and Paris last week and is due to go to Berlin later this week for pre-summit talks with the leaders.

"It's not so much about names at this stage, rather about the election procedure and how to deal with the parliament," one insider told this website.

The Social Democrats in the European Parliament have already endorsed their leader Martin Schulz, who is currently head of the Parliament - as lead candidate for the commission top job.

According to the rules set out by the Lisbon treaty, the commission chief will have to secure a majority in the new European Parliament.

With a poll conducted by the parliament suggesting a neck-and-neck result between the centre-left and the centre-right and considerable rise in the anti-EU parties, a deal among the Social Democrats and European People's Party seems unavoidable.

The current EU commission chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, meanwhile is not ruling himself out from a third mandate.

But the chances of him being put forward again are seen as slim. Many EU leaders would like to see him replaced and some MEPs from his own political family (EPP) are set to vote against him.

A Nordic leader - for instance Sweden's Fredrik Reinfeldt - or veteran EU figure Jean Claude-Juncker, currently running for another term as Luxembourg premier - could emerge as EPP candidate.

But the EPP is not expected to make any formal announcements until February or March next year since the nomination would mean a lame-duck period at home for the premier in question.

With the other top jobs in the EU - head of council, foreign affairs chief and EU parliament president - also for grabs, as well as the Nato top post - the commission post will be part of a grander bargain to be agreed in June after the EU elections.

One likelihood however is that the EPP will have fewer posts than it did in 2009 - when it had Barroso at the European Commission, Herman Van Rompuy at the EU council and Jerzy Buzek as head of the European Parliament.

With fewer centre-right governments in the council and losses expected in the European Parliament, the EPP is set to share more top posts with the Social Democrats and possibly head for a grand coalition in the EU legislature.

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