Monday

16th Sep 2019

Schulz named 'candidate designate' for commission post

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz Wednesday (6 November) became the first politician to formally begin campaigning to be the next President of the European commission.

Following a vote in the European Party of Socialists (PES), Schulz was nomintated "candidate designate" for the post and is set become the candidate proper following the party's congress in March next year.

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

Schulz, a German politician and social democrat, said he was "honoured and humbled" by the support of the centre-left forces.

Nominations for the socialists' candidate were made during October. Schulz received support from 22 of the 32 parties that make up the European centre-left family.

"This does not mean that the others voted against him," said a spokesperson for the PES.

"It brings us to the next very important step - to have engagement with the parties," he continued.

Socialist parties at the national level are now due to explain the process to their party members, with the 2014 European elections (22-25 May) representing the first time that European political parties are putting forward candidates for the top commission job.

The novelty is due to the Lisbon Treaty, in place since 2009, which says that EU leaders must take into account the result of the EU vote.

The clause has opened up debate about how it should be interpreted.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said there is no "automaticity" between parties' top candidates and the filling of the big EU jobs next year - a process she believes EU leaders should keep in their hands.

MEPs generally prefer a more expansive reading of the treaty.

They are in favour of a process that would see the candidate of the most popular political party get the commission job.

Those who favour the broader interpretation say it will engage EU voters more and let them clearly see what the consequences of their vote will be.

Critics say that such a process would not help to heal Europe's democratic deficit - the term given to the gap between the EU's increasing powers and its distance from citizens.

Heather Grabbe from the Open Society Institute says a partisan president would make the commission a "weaker guardian of the treaties ... a captain of one of the teams cannot be a fair referee."

"The proposal would not offer voters a meaningful choice because the commission does not decide big issues such as economic governance," she wrote in Tuesday's Financial Times.

Schulz for this part dismisses this argument.

"As millions of EU citizens who have felt the consequences already know, the European Commission has long been politicised. Unfortunately it has been the politics of the elite," he said.

"It is time for a connection between EU institutions and EU citizens,"he added.

The European socialists say they will campaign in the elections "with a view to becoming the biggest group in the assembly."

At the last election in 2009, when the economic crisis was in full swing, they failed to persuade voters to make a shift to the left, with the right emerging as the dominant power in the EU legislature.

Catalonia celebrates national day ahead of trial verdicts

Catalonia celebrated on Wednesday its national day - while awaiting the trial verdict on 12 Catalan separatists, former politicians of Carles Puigdemont's government. That decision is expected for early October.

News in Brief

  1. Nearly 100 refugees evacuated from Libya to Italy
  2. Juncker to meet Johnson on Monday
  3. First Hungary 'Article 7' hearing set for Monday
  4. Vestager picks Danish EU ambassador as cabinet head
  5. Commissioner hearings will start 30 September
  6. Italy says EU countries agree to take in rescued migrants
  7. Germany to organise Libya conference on arms embargo
  8. European Parliament to support another Brexit delay

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK
  2. As recession looms Europe needs more spending
  3. How should the EU handle Russia now?
  4. EU defence bravado criticised by auditors
  5. Central European leaders demand EU Balkan accession
  6. Luxembourg's cannabis legalisation is EU opportunity
  7. The Catalan National Day has been a success. Why?
  8. Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us