Wednesday

20th Nov 2019

EPP and Commission to strengthen links

  • Juncker at the EPP EU election night in May 2014. He says his Commission is more political. (Photo: EPP)

One European Commission vice-president and two other commissioners are running for executive functions in the centre-right European People's Party (EPP).

Jyrki Katainen, the Commission vice-president for growth and investment, is expected to become vice president of the EPP at the party's congress in Madrid later this week. 


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Enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is already vice-president, is running again. Social affairs commissioner Marianne Thyssen should also be elected.


There are twelve candidates for ten seats next to party president, Joseph Daul, who is poised to be reelected this week.

The election will strengthen the links between the leadership of the EPP, which is the main party in the European Parliament, and the EU executive, which, under the presidency of Jean-Claude Juncker, is said to be "more political".

Fourteen of the current 28 commissioners are EPP members, including president Juncker, who is part of the EPP executive body.

The EPP is also the party of EU Council president Donald Tusk and ten EU leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel, Spain's Mariano Rajoy and Hungary's Viktor Orban.

The links between EPP members of the Commission and the party were highlighted earlier this month when the Commission delayed the publication of its assessment of Spain's budget after socialist commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the budget was non-compliant with EU rules.

"The EPP must have a strong voice in designing the future European economy as well as society," Katainen wrote to EUobserver.

While Thyssen said that from her current position as EU commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility,she would try to help shape the EPP's clear social ambitions," Hahn said he was running again to help "uphold our common values and interests [because they are] vital to the success of EU foreign policy."

Other candidates for vice-presidency include former Commission vice-president Antonio Tajani, MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, who is running again, and David McAllistair, who led Merkel's CDU list for last year's EU elections in Germany.

At the Madrid congress, the EPP will adopt the positions its members will follow in the member states, at the European Parliament and in the Commission.

"There cannot be a stronger EU foreign and security policy, or an EU resilient to populist and authoritarian temptations from within, without social stability, a more dynamic, competitive, more prosperous and therefore stronger Union," the EPP will say in a declaration seen by EUobserver.

The EPP will advocate a "stronger Eurozone governance, the completion and full realisation of the Single Market, Energy Union, and the digital single market".

It will also call for the conclusion of TTIP, the free-trade agreement currently being negotiated with the US, and which, the EPP says, is "a precondition for improving our security and better promoting our values".

Regarding the migrant crisis, the EPP will call for "a true system of responsibility sharing [which works] to the benefit of all member states confronted with a disproportionate share of applicants for international protection" as well as "a more efficient border-control policy".

The declaration also says that the EU should go towards "the creation of a common EU army".

"The defense and security policy is not taboo anymore in the EPP," the party's president Joseph Daul told a group of reporters last week.

Because of the current migrant crisis and security challenges, he said, "we'll move forward to an EU army much faster than expected".


In Madrid, the EPP will also launch a working group on the future of Europe, chaired by former EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy, and Elmar Brok, chairman of the EU Parliament foreign affairs committee.

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In a boost for the cause of three Catalan MEPs, the advocate general of the EU Court of Justice has recognised their mandate as elected MEPs - but it is up to the parliament if they should enjoy immunity.

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Although the governing Socialists Party (PSOE) won the most seats at Sunday's elections, the political deadlock continues with a deeply-fragmented scenario, in which the far-right Vox party is in a strong position while the centre has become irrelevant.

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On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

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