The European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in the European Parliament, is not very enthusiastic about the new appointing system for EU Commission presidency. Or so it seems.
All groups running for the European parliament have to nominate a candidate to preside the European Commission and, ideally, the biggest parliamentary group’s nominee will take over as Barroso’s successor. All the big European families have already appointed someone except for the EPP, who will officially elect someone as late as March.
This is not a tiny factor. Although everyone is more or less playing along to this new appointing system, there is no guarantee that the Council of the European Union* will honour the voter’s choice when proposing a new president of the Commission to the European Parliament.
As always, that will depend on a complicated negotiation among national leaders. And 12 heads of state or government of EU member states belong to the EPP. Including German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose opinion on the matter, as in everything else, is very important.
According to the Financial Times, she will back the Luxembourgian Jean-Claude Juncker as candidate of EPP. And this alone might distort the point behind the new electing system: encouraging interest and participation in the European elections.
According to the same article in the FT, Junker might not even run for the European Parliament. That, together with the fact that he will be elected as late as march, makes it hard to picture him leading one big campaign across Europe to mimic those in National elections.
Not surprisingly, the second biggest group in the European Parliament, the Socialists (PES), is much keener on the new electing system for the Commission. They elected their candidate, the current president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, in November. After all, he was the one to come up with the whole idea**.
Evil tongues say he is only after the Commission’s presidency, a much bigger prize than his current post and that the noble purpose of encouraging participation is nothing more than a pretext. It may be so, but there is not much else being done to stop the increasing indifference and mistrust of European citizens towards the European institutions.
In this context, participation will likely hit a new low and eurosceptics will be the only real winners of the contest, with practically everyone else losing voters. Perhaps is not the craziest idea to turn these European elections into a continent-wide contest.
But that undoubtedly requires of the most important European force, the EPP, to get into the game and organize one big European campaign rather than 28 little ones, just like the socialists, the liberals, the greens and the other European families are trying to do.
*The European Council, comprised of the heads of state or government of EU member states, proposes a President for the Commission, who is then elected by the European Parliament.
**If you want to know more about Schulz and the new appointing system for EU Commission presidency check this article in The Economist.