Written by Marcin Cesluk-Grajewski
2014 is certain to feature prominently in the history of European Union institutions. For the first time, EU citizens could influence who became president of the European Commission by voting in the European elections for a candidate from a particular political group. Will this become a precedent? Will it move the EU towards a more vibrant democracy? Will it help to restore popular trust in its institutions at a time when eurosceptic party gains point to eroding confidence in the European project? Will 2014 be remembered as a breakthrough or a muddle-through year? Will the ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ process strengthen the European Parliament and President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has called his team ‘the last chance Commission’?
The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) and the European University Institute (EUI) will try to provide some answers to these questions at their first jointly organised conference ‘The institutional significance of 2014 in the European Union – the European elections, Spitzenkandidaten and Juncker Commission’ on 11 December at 15:00 hours in the EPRS Library Reading Room. The event comes almost two weeks after President Juncker presented his first major policy initiative – the investment package – to the EP and a week before his debut as chief of the EU executive at the European Council.
EPRS and the EUI are delighted that the conference will be opened with a keynote speech by Professor Danuta Hübner, chairwoman of the Committee for Constitutional Affairs, former European Commissioner for Regional Policy and a former minister for Europe in Poland. She will also chair the first panel, which will discuss lessons learned from the European elections this year. She will be joined by Thomas Christiansen, Jean Monnet Professor of European Institutional Politics and Co-Director of the Maastricht Centre for European Governance at Maastricht University, to talk about the ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ process. Also speaking is Doctor Diego Garzia, currently a Research Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence, whose research focuses on drivers of voters’ choice in Western Europe. He will analyse results of the European elections. EPRS analyst Eva-Maria Poptcheva will take part in the panel as a discussant.
The second panel will aim to analyse the new EU institutional balance that emerged after the elections with the appointment of the Juncker Commission. Chaired by Gérard Laprat, Director of the EP’s Directorate General for internal policies, the panel will feature Richard Corbett, EP rapporteur for the recent commissioner hearings. The second panellist, Professor Brigid Laffan, Director of the Robert Schuman Centre at the EUI will offer her views on the future relationship between the institutions. DG IPOL’s Research Administrator Petr Novak will be a discussant at the panel.
EP Secretary General Klaus Welle will make the closing remarks.