23rd Oct 2016

Merkel: EU vote not decisive on commission President

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has poured cold water on hopes the European Commission President candidate of the most popular political party after next year's EU election will automatically get the post.

"I don't see any automaticity between top candidates and the filling of posts," said Merkel on Friday (25 October) in Brussels.

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  • The EU elections will take place 22-25 May 2014 (Photo: European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari)

"The treaty says that it should be taken into account. Otherwise the commission president will be voted by the parliament based on a proposal by the [EU leaders]," she noted.

She added that this means there will be "many considerations" and "many discussions" after the 22-25 May European Parliament vote on how to divide the vacant posts.

Merkel's comments indicate the old habits of the past will continue.

This sees EU leaders negotiate behind doors to divide up the posts of the commission president, foreign affairs chief and EU council president.

Weight is given the person's political affiliation, nationality and gender. Their talent or suitability for the job is often an optional extra.

With the entrance into force in 2009 of the EU's newest set of the rules - the Lisbon Treaty - several had hoped that the EU elections would become more political, with the rules stating that EU leaders should propose a commission president "taking into account" the European elections.

Those in favour of the idea say that giving EU voters a real outcome for their vote will make the election more European - rather than the national affair it is today - and buck the continuous downward trend in voter turnout.

This has led to European political parties promising to field candidates for the post. Merkel's own faction, the centre-right EPP, is set to make a nomination in March next year.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz is set to stand for the centre-left while the far-left is set to field Alexis Tsipras, head of Greece's Syriza party, as its candidate.

Jean-Claude Juncker, longterm Luxembourg leader, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the centre-right.

Merkel said there are important posts to be distributed by EU leaders and that should be "distinguished from" political parties putting forward top candidates.

The chancellor added that the parties' candidates cannot necessarily expect to become president and said "false promises" should not be made.

The continuation of the secretive nomination process stands in stark contrast to the large increase in powers given to the EU level as a result of the economic crisis.

New rules allow the European Commission to see the budgets of euro states before national parliaments do.

Thomas Klau from the European Council of Foreign Relations calls this the "height of political irresponsibility" which will lead to another "unconvincing trio" in Brussels - a reference to the occupants of the current top three posts.

"National leaders seem intent on doing politically mad thing of having on the one hand strengthened the power of the system to intrude in national politics and on the other hand refusing to give the system the political leadership it would need to exercise such power responsibly," Klau told this website.

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