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Election of the President of the European Commission: Understanding the Spitzenkandidaten process

05-04-2019

The European Parliament has long sought to ensure that, by voting in European elections, European citizens not only elect the Parliament itself, but also have a say over who would head the EU executive – the European Commission. What became known as the 'Spitzenkandidaten process' is a procedure whereby European political parties, ahead of European elections, appoint lead candidates for the role of Commission President, with the presidency of the Commission then going to the candidate of the political ...

The European Parliament has long sought to ensure that, by voting in European elections, European citizens not only elect the Parliament itself, but also have a say over who would head the EU executive – the European Commission. What became known as the 'Spitzenkandidaten process' is a procedure whereby European political parties, ahead of European elections, appoint lead candidates for the role of Commission President, with the presidency of the Commission then going to the candidate of the political party capable of marshalling sufficient parliamentary support. The Parliament remains firmly committed to repeating the process in 2019 and, with EP elections now only weeks away, attention has shifted to the European political parties. A number of parties have nominated lead candidates, and this briefing gives an overview of their nominees, as well as looking more broadly at the process. This is a revised and further updated edition of an earlier briefing; previous edition from February 2019.

European elections [What Think Tanks are thinking]

11-01-2019

Citizens of the European Union go to the polls in May 2019, in elections to the European Parliament which many analysts say may be the most important ever. Commentators are currently focused on the prospective performance of anti-establishment parties and movements, many of which run on Eurosceptic platforms. The vote will also indicate if the Spitzenkandidaten process, launched by the European political parties five years ago, has become established practice. If followed as in 2014, the candidate ...

Citizens of the European Union go to the polls in May 2019, in elections to the European Parliament which many analysts say may be the most important ever. Commentators are currently focused on the prospective performance of anti-establishment parties and movements, many of which run on Eurosceptic platforms. The vote will also indicate if the Spitzenkandidaten process, launched by the European political parties five years ago, has become established practice. If followed as in 2014, the candidate from the political force that receives the highest number of seats in the European elections would become the President of the European Commission. This note offers links to reports and commentaries from some major international think-tanks and research institutes on the forthcoming European elections and related issues.

The State of the Union [What Think Tanks are thinking]

07-09-2018

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will deliver his last State of the Union address to the European Parliament on Wednesday 12 September, a little more than eight months before the next European elections. In this annual speech in Strasbourg, President Juncker is expected to take stock of the state of play on his ten priorities for the 2014-2019 political cycle and present his remaining initiatives on building a 'more united, stronger and more democratic Union'. Juncker ...

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will deliver his last State of the Union address to the European Parliament on Wednesday 12 September, a little more than eight months before the next European elections. In this annual speech in Strasbourg, President Juncker is expected to take stock of the state of play on his ten priorities for the 2014-2019 political cycle and present his remaining initiatives on building a 'more united, stronger and more democratic Union'. Juncker’s 2017 address was marked by cautious optimism: since then, whilst the European economy has continued to recover, several other challenges have proved persistent. This note offers a selection of links to commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the state of the EU and possible reforms. Brexit-related publications can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are thinking’ from July 2018. Papers on migration are available in an earlier edition in this series, published in June. Those on euro-zone reform appear in a previous publication in June.

The 2018 State of the Union debate in the European Parliament

07-09-2018

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union address to the European Parliament, and the subsequent debate, on 12 September 2018 is to be the last one during the current mandate. It comes in the context of the ongoing reflection on the future path of the European Union, especially in view of the European elections next May. The debate will therefore be an occasion to reflect on the legacy and achievements of this Commission, to present the priorities until the end of the ...

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union address to the European Parliament, and the subsequent debate, on 12 September 2018 is to be the last one during the current mandate. It comes in the context of the ongoing reflection on the future path of the European Union, especially in view of the European elections next May. The debate will therefore be an occasion to reflect on the legacy and achievements of this Commission, to present the priorities until the end of the mandate and to follow up on the ongoing debate on the future path of the European Union of 27. President Juncker’s speech is expected to be accompanied by a set of concrete initiatives and proposals with the aim to deliver positive results for citizens by the time of the Sibiu summit in May 2019. This year’s speech comes as the campaigns for the European elections start to take shape, but also in the period of intensive debate on the Commission’s proposals for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which set out the Commission’s vision of the EU financing of policies during that period. The State of the Union debate now forms part of the process for the adoption of the annual Commission Work Programme and thus plays an important role in identifying major political priorities to be agreed in interinstitutional dialogue. This briefing is an update of an earlier one, of September 2017, by Eva-Maria Poptcheva.

Outcome of the informal meeting of the 27 Heads of State or Government of 23 February 2018

28-02-2018

At an informal meeting on 23 February 2018, 27 Heads of State or Government (the UK did not take part as the discussion were future oriented) discussed two major topics: institutional issues, in particular the future composition of the European Parliament and high-level EU appointments, including the Spitzenkandidaten process, on the one hand, and the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), on the other. Conducted as part of the Leaders' Agenda, the meeting did not produce formal conclusions. ...

At an informal meeting on 23 February 2018, 27 Heads of State or Government (the UK did not take part as the discussion were future oriented) discussed two major topics: institutional issues, in particular the future composition of the European Parliament and high-level EU appointments, including the Spitzenkandidaten process, on the one hand, and the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), on the other. Conducted as part of the Leaders' Agenda, the meeting did not produce formal conclusions. According to post-summit statements by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the idea of a European Parliament with fewer MEPs after Brexit was broadly supported, however Heads of State or Government agreed that there could not be any automaticity in proposing, for President of the European Commission, the lead candidate put forward by the European party having come first at the European elections. As regards the MFF, they expressed the view that reaching an agreement in the European Council by the end of 2018 would be very difficult. Heads of State or Government took the opportunity to address other issues briefly, expressing their support for Cyprus and Greece regarding developments with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, and urging the Assad regime and its backers to stop the violence in Syria. The European Council President also informed his colleagues that draft guidelines on the future EU-UK relationship will be presented at the 22-23 March European Council meeting.

The European Council and the 2017 State of the Union proposals

27-10-2017

In his 2017 State of the Union address to the European Parliament, the European Commission's President, Jean-Claude Juncker, took stock of EU developments over the past year and outlined his vision for the future of the EU, which would lead to a 'more united, stronger and more democratic Europe'. His vision consists of five proposals which would require a decision by the European Council, as well as one suggestion which would directly impact on the composition and working methods of this EU institution ...

In his 2017 State of the Union address to the European Parliament, the European Commission's President, Jean-Claude Juncker, took stock of EU developments over the past year and outlined his vision for the future of the EU, which would lead to a 'more united, stronger and more democratic Europe'. His vision consists of five proposals which would require a decision by the European Council, as well as one suggestion which would directly impact on the composition and working methods of this EU institution. The five proposals are: 1) using the general passerelle clause to shift from unanimity to qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council on remaining internal market issues and aspects of taxation policy; 2) moving to QMV in the field of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP); 3) setting up a European Defence Union; 4) extending the competences of the European Public Prosecutor's Office; 5) agreeing on a new composition for the European Parliament, including transnational lists. The additional suggestion is to merge the positions of President of the European Council and European Commission. In principle, all proposed initiatives could be carried out without a Treaty change. The Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) include a series of clauses enabling the European Council to go beyond the current status quo. In three cases, the European Council would need the consent of the European Parliament before taking its decision. A comparison between President Juncker's proposals and the views of the European Parliament indicates that their opinions overlap regarding four of the ideas, while on one of them, discussions in the Parliament are still ongoing (see Table 1 below).

Plenary round-up - Strasbourg, September 2017

15-09-2017

In addition to the State of the Union address by European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, the main debates held during Parliament's September plenary session included questions such as fire safety in buildings, the impact of hurricane Irma, breaches of human rights and a series of statements related to external relations presented by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini. On the legislative front, Members voted, inter alia, on proposals concerning the WIFI4EU regulation (an initiative ...

In addition to the State of the Union address by European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, the main debates held during Parliament's September plenary session included questions such as fire safety in buildings, the impact of hurricane Irma, breaches of human rights and a series of statements related to external relations presented by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini. On the legislative front, Members voted, inter alia, on proposals concerning the WIFI4EU regulation (an initiative to promote internet connectivity in local communities), security of gas supply, the European Accessibility Act and the European Venture Capital Funds and European Social Entrepreneurship Funds investment schemes. Parliament pushed the Council to move forward with ratifying the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women. It also raised concerns over the EU Common Position on arms export, as well as adopting three resolutions aimed at modernising EU-Chile trade relations.

The State of the Union [What Think Tanks are thinking]

15-09-2017

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, laid out his vision of the European Union in his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 13 September 2017. He noted that the overall outlook has changed for the better over the past year, notably thanks to an accelerating economic recovery. ‘The wind is back in the European sails,’ he declared. Much interest focussed on Juncker’s advocacy of various eurozone and EU institutional reforms. He proposed ...

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, laid out his vision of the European Union in his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 13 September 2017. He noted that the overall outlook has changed for the better over the past year, notably thanks to an accelerating economic recovery. ‘The wind is back in the European sails,’ he declared. Much interest focussed on Juncker’s advocacy of various eurozone and EU institutional reforms. He proposed the designation of a eurozone finance minister, who would preside over the Eurogroup, as well as being a member of the Commission. He supported the development of a European Monetary Fund. However, he opted against the creation of a separate eurozone budget, preferring a dedicated budget line within a general EU budget. He also said there should not be a separate eurozone parliament either. He favoured combining the presidencies of the Commission and the European Council, and he supported the idea a new, additional transnational constituency for the European elections. On the policy front, he advocated a pro-innovation industrial strategy, a reinforced social pillar, an authority to supervise fairness in the single market, better handling of migratory flows, and new trade agreements. This note offers links to commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the state of the EU and possible reforms. Brexit-related publications can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking. Earlier papers on the general condition of the EU are available in another edition in this series, published in April 2017.

The 2017 State of the Union debate in the European Parliament

08-09-2017

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union address to the European Parliament, and the subsequent debate, on 13 September come in the context of the ongoing broader reflection on the future path of the European Union. This has been intensified by the first-ever withdrawal of a Member State from the Union; although lamented by most, this is often cited as an opportunity to rebuild the Union on stronger grounds. The debate will therefore feed into a larger reflection process ...

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union address to the European Parliament, and the subsequent debate, on 13 September come in the context of the ongoing broader reflection on the future path of the European Union. This has been intensified by the first-ever withdrawal of a Member State from the Union; although lamented by most, this is often cited as an opportunity to rebuild the Union on stronger grounds. The debate will therefore feed into a larger reflection process, to which Parliament contributed three landmark resolutions, launched by EU-27 leaders in the Rome declaration of 25 March 2017. As announced in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union speech, the Commission published a white paper on the future of Europe, identifying five scenarios for the further course of the Union. The Commission President has recently pointed to a sixth scenario to be revealed in his State of the Union speech. The State of the Union debate forms part of the process for the adoption of the annual Commission Work Programme and thus plays an important role in identifying major political priorities to be agreed in interinstitutional dialogue. This briefing is an update of an earlier one of September 2016, PE 586.665.

The State of the Union [What Think Tanks are Thinking]

08-09-2016

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, delivers his annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament on 14 September 2016, at a time when the EU faces several crises that are testing its ability to offer solutions to citizens. Britain's recent vote to leave the EU, the migration crisis, continued economic stagnation, the rise of populism and xenophobia, and Russia's assertive foreign policy are all major challenges prompting serious debate about future policy options ...

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, delivers his annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament on 14 September 2016, at a time when the EU faces several crises that are testing its ability to offer solutions to citizens. Britain's recent vote to leave the EU, the migration crisis, continued economic stagnation, the rise of populism and xenophobia, and Russia's assertive foreign policy are all major challenges prompting serious debate about future policy options. This note offers links to commentaries, studies and reports on the topic from major international think tanks on the state of the EU and possible reforms. Publications on euro area reforms can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking.' More papers the future of the EU-UK relations are available in another recent edition of this series.

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