This week the Parliament's political groups had the opportunity to quiz president-designate of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. Although the former Luxembourg prime minister was nominated for the Commission presidency by the European Council on 27 June, he still requires the Parliament's backing. The plenary vote on his candidacy will take place on 15 July.
Whoever succeeds José Manuel Barroso as Commission president this autumn will need the support of a majority of members of the European Parliament, meaning at least 376 MEPs. The parliamentary vote on Jean-Claude Juncker's candidacy will take place on 15 July. It will be preceded by a statement by Mr Juncker, followed by a plenary debate.
In an attempt to rally their support prior to the plenary vote, Juncker met with political groups this week. The Commission president-designate was grilled on his plans and priorities, as well as his suitability for the post. He met the S&D, ECR and ALDE groups on 8 July and sat down with the EPP, Greens, GUE/NGL and EFDD the following day.
President of the EPP group Manfred Weber said "Jean-Claude Juncker made it clear today that under his leadership, the European Commission will be ambitious, with a clear agenda." He added that the election of the new Commission president would bring further transparency and democracy into European politics.
Following their meeting with Mr Juncker S&D group leader Gianni Pittella said "our final decision on whether to support Juncker has not yet been taken. We will continue our debate next week.”
Commenting on behalf of the ECR, group President Syed Kamall said that while they would cooperate with Juncker should he be elected, they did not support the process of his nomination: "It represents a shift of power away from the member states and towards the Parliament."
In a statement after its meeting the ALDE group made clear that its support for the former Luxembourg premier "will not simply be determined by his excellent pro-European credentials. Our support will also depend on the content of his programme."
GUE/NGL brought up the impact of austerity and the proposed transatlantic trade agreement with Mr Juncker. Group president Gabi Zimmer stated “Juncker's priorities do not match our vision for the EU's future."
The Greens/EFA group leaders Rebecca Harms and Philippe Lamberts said: "Not all his responses matched our vision for the EU, but there is also some common ground."
EFDD co-president Nigel Farage said “we are very pleased that Mr Juncker chose to come and speak to the most eurocritical group in the European Parliament."
If elected by the Parliament on 15 July, the new Commission president will propose a list of candidates for the commissioners’ posts, together with the member states. MEPs will then have to approve the new Commission before it can take up its duties, after quizzing each candidate in a hearing to assess his or her suitability for the post.