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The European Parliament’s election of the President of the European Commission

Updated on 3 June 2014

The European Union’s architecture has been largely criticised for its alleged democratic deficit, which many see in the lack of political accountability of the European Commission (EC), as the EU’s executive, to the European Parliament (EP).

The European Parliament's election of the President of the European Commission

© dampoint / Fotolia

In order to increase the legitimacy of the EU decision-making process, the Lisbon Treaty established that the President of the EC will be elected by the European Parliament based on a proposal by the European Council, but taking into account the European elections ( Article 17(7) TEU ). This political linkage between the elections to the European Parliament and the appointment of the Commission President was put into practice for the first time at the 2014 election .

In a Resolution from 22 November 2012, the EP called on the political parties to nominate candidates for the Presidency of the EC allowing for citizens to influence directly, through their vote in the European election, the choice of the head of the European executive. In this way, the EU decision-making process will become more politicised as a response to criticism that the EU adopts policies without politics.

However, some political actors and analysts have cast in doubt on whether Member States would be willing to propose as a candidate for the EC Presidency one of the candidates nominated by the European political parties. Moreover, whilst some commentators welcome the creation of true ‘parliament-government’ dynamics between the EP and the EC, others warn of a possible loss of neutrality of the EC and call upon the Parliament to focus on overseeing the work of the EC rather than on sustaining it by a parliamentary majority.

The question now is whether the European Council will follow Parliament’s initiative and propose as a candidate for the Commission Presidency one of the candidates nominated by the European political parties or if it will insist on the fact that according to the Treaties (Article 17(7) TEU) it is the Council’s decision which candidate to propose for election by the Parliament, though taking into account the EP elections. In this context, Parliament’s Conference of Presidents informed on 27 May the European Council that the candidate of the largest political group, Mr. Jean Claude Juncker, will be the first to attempt to form the required qualified majority in Parliament for his election as the Commission President.

Overviews

European elections 2014 – possible presidents / European Voice website

Post-election wrangling kicks off this week / EUobserver, 23/5/2014

The EU top jobs: Who’s next? / EurActiv, 7/2/2014
This EurActiv links dossier looks at the practical issues and procedural changes of choosing the next president of the Commission as well as challenges emerging in post-election negotiations.

400 is the magic number: scenarios for electing the next Commission president / Christian Feustel, Europe Decides, 6/2/2014
Christian Feustel, Senior Policy Analyst at ” BusinessEurope “, gives his personal views on possible European Commission’s President election scenarios.

Think-tanks call for stronger successor to Barroso / EurActiv, 30/1/2014
This article provides an overview of European think-tanks annual dialogue which took place on 28 January 2014 to discuss the key challenges facing EU leaders and especially the new president of the Commission after the upcoming European Parliament elections.

2014: The year of Europe’s democratic (r)evolution? / Burson-Marsteller Insight, July, 2013 6 p.
This paper provides an overview of various issues to be resolved in 2014, including the problems and compromises in the choice of a new President of the European Commission. It also includes the list of possible candidates.

‘Europeanisation’ of the 2014 EP elections / Eva-Maria Poptcheva, Library Briefing, European Parliament Library, 27/6/2013, 1 p.
This briefing provides a short background to the election of the Commission President by the Parliament and the nomination of candidates by the political parties, presenting the pros and cons.

Analysis

European Commission and Parliament: What relations? / Antonio Vitorino, Notre Europe, 29 January 2014, 4 p.

This paper presents a speech given by Antonio Vitorino´s, president of Notre Europe, during a public hearing in the EP Committee on Constitutional Affairs on 20 January 2014. A.Vitorino addresses key issues the role of EP in the upcoming negotiations on choosing the Commission´s President.

‘Towards a new procedure for appointing the President of the European Commission’ / Gianni Bonvicini, Tepsa, January 2014, 5 p.
In this policy paper Gianni Bonvicini, TEPSA Board Member and Executive Vice President of Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in Rome, analyses the procedure for appointing the President of the Commission and the effect this will have on the balance of powers within the EU.

Strengthening European Democracy: Citizens’ Participation. Which Challenges Do we Face at the European Elections of 2014? – Dialogue with Churches and Non-Confessional Organisations / Joseph H. H. Weiler, Claes H. de Vreese, European Parliament Policy Department C, PE 493.036, November 2013, 32 p.
This note focuses on European Elections, which offers voters the opportunity to influence the choice of the next President of the European Commission. See in particular from page 7 where the author discusses the prospects and risks related to this procedure.

The 2014 European elections: Why a partisan Commission president would be bad for the EU / Heather Grabbe, Stefan Lehne, Centre for European reform, 14 October 2013, 9 p.
This publication presents critical views on the idea of connecting the European elections and nomination of the EC President.

The European Parliament elections 2014 Watershed or, again, washed out? / Corina Stratulat, Janis A. Emmanouilidis, European Policy Centre, September 2013, 12 p.
EPC discussion paper discusses current issues, institutional and contextual challenges that could mark a turning point for the elections of the European Parliament in 2014. They argue that if upcoming elections want to experience significant change and avoid underlying risks is important to choose significant electoral messages and reliable candidates for the President of the European Commission.

The European Parliament elections 2014 – Breaking the mould or more of the same? European Policy Centre, 10 July 2013
The EPC policy dialogue “The European Parliament elections 2014 – Breaking the mould or more of the same?” was held in Brussels on 10th July 2013. Various questions related to the perspective of upcoming European Elections and choosing new president of the European Commission were discussed by MEPs Rebecca Harms, Andrew Duff, Rafał Trzaskowski and Senior Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre Janis A. Emmanouilidis.

News

EurActive EU elections news

Latest EUobserver news on the EU elections 2014

Europolitics news on elections 2014

Euronews election website Europe’s choice .

  • How it works / video on the Parliament elections and the procedure to elect the European Commission President

Infographics and public opinion

Election countdown: how your vote for Parliament will decide the new Commission
The Infographic shows how European Commission and the President of the Commission will be elected.

Europe decides 2014: To the elections 2014 and beyond
This Infographic provides countdown to the elections 2014

One Year to Go Until the 2014 European Elections: European Parliament Eurobarometer, EB 79.5 / Directorate-General for Communication Public Opinion Monitoring Unit, European Parliament Eurobarometer EB79.5, 21 August 2013, 83 p.
This survey follows the Eurobarometer survey ‘Two years to go to the 2014 European elections’, EP/EB77.4 of June 2012, seeking to estimate Europeans’ opinion of the European elections 2014 and new procedure for electing the President of the European Commission.

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Discussion

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