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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What happens next after the European elections? Get ready for a royal punch-up...

With the European elections taking place on Thursday through to Sunday this week, it is worth considering what happens next. The proposed Spitzenkandidaten or European Parliamentary families’ candidates for European Commission President is set to make the post-election horse-trading and politicking more fraught than usual. As we warn into today’s Times this could have huge implications for the future of the EU and David Cameron’s reform agenda.And it will be nothing short of a royal punch-up.

The EU treaties are ambiguous about exactly how the next Commission President should be selected, but the Lisbon Treaty states that EU leaders must for the first time take “into account” the result of the European elections when proposing the new European Commission President. Ultimately, EU leaders retain the power to reach a compromise candidate among themselves, but the EP’s veto over the appointment could lead to a stand-off between governments and MEPs.

Here is a quick timeline to keep in mind – in effect there will be a three round selection process:

ROUND 1 – 22-25 May 2014: election days

27 May: Martin Schulz (currently European Parliament President and the Socialists’ Spitzenkandidaten), Jean-Claude Juncker, the centre-right EPP candidate, meet the other candidates over breakfast to discuss outcome of elections – presumably to put pressure on national leaders who will meet for dinner later the same day to appoint one of the MEPs' chosen men.

ROUND 2 – 27 May: EU leaders meet for dinner to discuss outcome of the elections – they will no doubt discuss whether to opt for a Spitzenkandidat or propose another candidate. Whether an alternative candidate would come from either the centre-left or centre-right will likely to depend on the outcome of the elections. However, it is unlikely EU leaders will be able to publicly select their candidate before the distribution of the political groups is known (see below).

June: formation of European Parliament political groups – this could be important because the post-election jockeying will determine the political groups’ distribution in the new parliament. If the result between the centre-right EPP and centre-left S&D is tight, as it is looking, picking up a few MEPs here and there from other groups could be vital in becoming the largest group.

The focus will also be on whether Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders manage to put together a new far-right grouping and what the post-election scramble might mean for other groups such as UKIP’s EFD and even the Conservatives’ ECR group. To get the formal status of a political group it must consist of at least 25 MEPs, elected in at least one-quarter of the Member States (i.e. at least 7).

ROUND 2a – 26-27 June: EU leaders meet at European Council meeting. When the European Council has made its proposal for the Commission President, a period of negotiations with the Parliament on his/her political priorities and programme could take place.

1-3 July: EP constitutive session: MEPs officially take up their seats in the Parliament. Election of EP President (not to be confused with the Commission President), vice-presidents and quaestors

7-10 July: official EP political group meetings

ROUND 3 – 14-17 July: session of the Parliament – election of Commission President by a majority of MEPs. Should EU leaders’ candidate be rejected, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, has one month to propose a new candidate.

Once the Commission President has been elected, the Council, in agreement with the Commission President-elect, adopts the list of commissioners designated (i.e. proposed Commissioners from each member state are assigned a portfolio).

September: hearings of designated European Commissioners. The Commissioners-designate appear before the parliamentary committee(s) relevant to their prospective fields of responsibility. MEPs do not have the power to reject individual Commissioners but, in the past, these hearings have led to candidate commissioners withdrawing or having their portfolio changed.

October (tbc): Vote on the full European Commission. The new European Commission must be approved en masse by a majority of MEPs.

So, given that both parts have an effective veto - echoing the Italian parliamentary system (that great constitutional model for getting stuff done) - this stand-off can last for a long time.

Regardless, it won't be pretty. 


Jesper said...

What is the worst that could happen? No commission in place and nobody missing having a commission? Some would like that a lot :-)


By far the most significant item in your road map is the possibility for the first time of an anti-EU transnational voting bloc in the EU parliament. I believe a grouping of 25+ members from 7+ countries can propose new laws, and make significant changes to EU procedures and objectives (yet to be tested: propose treaty changes)’

The necessary elements of this grouping are already in prospect: France (National Front), the Netherlands (Party of Freedom), Italy (Lega Nord), Sweden (Democrats), Austria (Freedom Party), Belgium (Flemish Interest) and England (UKIP), to name the front runners.

At present Cameron is campaigning on the basis that only the Conservatives can provide a referendum on EU membership and that UKIP is powerless. Should Nigel Farage find some way of reaching an accommodation with Le Pen and Geert Wilders he will be part of the decision-making. Immediately the UK elitists will scream – racism! But the return of the EU to simply a ‘common market’ is the most important matter in the English interest.

christina speight said...

The one thing all these "suits": know well is that there is power and money to be had for the bargaining, betraying and general politicking .

So they'll be in the for the fight and as usual the people of Europe will get stitched-up an d PAY!

Rik said...

Looks like another event that will give Denis/AE (and Nigel of course) a lot of new friends.

Just make a list which requirements a candidate should have for the topjob and you definitely donot come out with these 2 guys.
On the other hand appointing a politically acceptable candidate after a lot of streetfighting and horse trading might be amusing but hardly will do much good on the democracy front.

Schultz is an absolute no go. He is rather popular in his home country, but basically everywhere else he is a total disaster. If the election would be all over Europe the average turd (the unpolished non-human variety) would do even better.
Juncker is also not a great choice (much too EU linked), but at least doesnot hurt your eyes when you have to look at his picture.

Both parties simply needed a candidate that would have been likeable all over the place. Few people have that and no one with a beard and brown suits has.
No insider but somebody with experience how the thing works.
Experience with chance management (so likely somebody with also a non political background).
Preferably experience with economics/finance (there a lot of the problems are).
Preferably no German, but a Northener as those countries give the most worry.

So in a nutshell a perfect job for Farage. Likeable, no part of the ancien regime, but knows how it ticks, financial/business background, not German.
Ticks all the boxes.

Kapo Schultz (as he is referred to by important European politicians like Berlusconi and Wilders. So who are we to use a different qualification). Insider; with a full political background, less likeable than Putin, German and most important brown suits and shoes.
Juncker: insider, too political but more likeable than Putin (although not much). Relatively a lot better than the Schultzman but still crap.

Other candidates (Skandinavian PMs galore) simply why do they not stand in the election.
Poles and Co are a no go. Nobody likes further integrationists whose purpose it is to use that to p!$$ that Mr Putin (although less popular than Mr Juncker) as often over his shoes as possible.
A Southerner would be fun but that is about it.

They should have come up in this election with a proper candidate that meets the requirements as mentioned above iso being politically acceptable. An organisation which credibility/approval/image is under severe pressure should not even consider a guy like Schultz (another one of Denis's dodgy friends).

Denis Cooper said...

Jesper - there wouldn't be any period without a Commission, EU leaders would just do what they did last time - break the EU treaties by extending the terms of the present Commissioners.

From January 2010:


"Britain is ruled by 26 illegal Brussels sprouts"

"The EU's Commissioners are still occupying their posts illegally, says Christopher Booker"

"Our real government, in that it now makes most of our laws, resides in Brussels, and on January 1, following the coming into force of the European Constitution (aka the Lisbon Treaty), we were due to get a new set of European Commissioners. But with the exception of its president, José Manuel Barroso, none of the appointees can take up their posts until hearings have been completed in the European Parliament.

In the meantime, therefore, we continue to be ruled by the old commissioners who, under the rules, should have retired on October 31. This means that 26 of them are still in office illegally. Lord Kinnock, the former vice-president of the commission, claimed in the Lords – as I reported in November – that this was perfectly legal under Article 216 of the original Treaty of Rome. But that deals solely with commissioners found guilty of "serious misconduct", who must be "compulsorily retired" because they no longer "fulfil the conditions required".

Ironically, this applies precisely to these commissioners"

Jesper said...


thanks. If the EU was ruled by law then I believe that what happened is reason enough for a treaty change.