The European Council - EU heads of state and government - should state clearly before the start of the European election campaign how it intends to respect the choice of EU citizens when proposing the new Commission President, to be elected by Parliament, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday.
Given that the EU treaties make the European Parliament and the European Council jointly responsible for the smooth running of the process leading to the election of the President of the European Commission, MEPs want the European Council "to state clearly, before the start of the European election campaign, how it intends, for its part, to respect the choice of European citizens in the appointment of the President of the Commission, in accordance with Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union, in the context of the consultations to be held between Parliament and the European Council with a view to implementing Declaration 11 annexed to the Lisbon Treaty". Parliament stresses "the importance of enhancing the visibility and European nature of the election campaign".
What do the EU treaties say?
Declaration 11 states that "the European Parliament and the European Council are jointly responsible for the smooth running of the process leading to the election of the President of the European Commission. Prior to the decision of the European Council, representatives of the European Parliament and of the European Council will thus conduct the necessary consultations in the framework deemed the most appropriate. These consultations will focus on the backgrounds of the candidates for President of the Commission, taking account of the elections to the European Parliament, in accordance with the first subparagraph of Article 17(7). The arrangements for such consultations may be determined, in due course, by common accord between the European Parliament and the European Council".
Article 17(7) TEU says "Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission. This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. If he does not obtain the required majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall within one month propose a new candidate who shall be elected by the European Parliament following the same procedure".
Parliament also calls on all EU heads of state and government to announce in advance how they intend to respect the vote of their fellow citizens when proposing one or more candidates for the post of Commissioner from their country.
European Council President should come to Parliament...
The President of the European Council should come to Parliament to present the subjects on the agenda of the EU summits in person, MEPs say. He should also report back after each summit "in front of the plenary sitting". MEPs acknowledge that unlike the President of the Commission, the President of the European Council is not accountable to Parliament and cannot be summoned for a debate. The organisation of debates in which he takes part should therefore take this into account, while allowing MEPs other than the group leaders to talk to him.
...and European Parliament President should take part in EU summits
Parliament's President should “participate fully in European Council meetings when inter-institutional questions are addressed”, says the resolution, stressing that the traditional introductory remarks by Parliament’s President at the opening of the EU summits are an "insufficient procedure". As far as possible, European Council meetings should not take place during the plenary session weeks of Parliament, it adds.
The resolution, drafted by Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR) was passed by a show of hands.