debate_profilesYesterday, four candidates from the largest European political parties running for the presidency of the European Commission faced off in a live debate organised by Euranet Plus and focused on the big election issues. If you missed the debate, you can check out the full video here.

This was the second debate between the four candidates, following a live TV debate in Maastricht yesterday. The candidate whose party receives the most votes in the European Parliament elections on May 25th will go on to become the next President of the European Commission, the powerful executive arm of the EU.

During the debates, the candidates have clashed over questions about how to fix the European economy, bring down high unemployment, address concerns about immigration and respond to the rise of eurosceptic parties. Other topics included the EU’s response to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the future shape of the European Union.

The top concern of most European voters, however, is the economy. Jean-Claude Juncker is official candidate for the  Centre-Right European People’s Party (you can see his party’s election manifesto priorities here). He believed that the EU needed to create a space for companies to thrive and grow the economy:

jean-claude-junckerI don’t believe that politicians can create jobs. Jobs are created by companies, and mainly by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. But, [politicians] can create a certain number of pre-conditions, leading to an improvement of the employment situation in Europe. I do think that we have to make sure that we have, after five years, a real European digital market, which brings an added value of 250 billion euros to the European economy, and we have to further develop and to complete the internal market – mainly in the services sector – which will bring another added value of 250 billion euros to the European economy… leading to more growth and more employment.

Ska Keller, the nominee for the  Greens, disagreed (and you can see her party’s top priorities here). She thought more public investment was needed to get the economy going:

keller-speaksThe EU can set the right incentives in order to create jobs, and I think there we missed the big opportunity with the [EU budget] for the next seven years, because we had proposed [greater investment in] research and development, for instance in green technologies. And it’s a pity that the [Social Democrats and the Centre-Right] have actually supported budget cuts in that area. Because now, with these budget cuts, we’re not setting the right incentives in, for instance, developing further green technology and other innovative areas…

Martin Schulz, the official candidate for the  Social Democrats (whose manifesto priorities are available here) responded by saying the biggest barrier to growth was the difficulty for smaller businesses to get access to the funding they needed. He said the EU should step in and support them:

Martin Schulz_photoWe are running the risk that, in some of our member states, a whole generation pay with their life chances for a crisis they have not caused. […] My experience is that in the countries in which the unemployment rate is the highest, the backbone of the economy are Small and Medium Enterprises with one big problem – this is the credit crunch. Their access to credit is [limited], therefore they can’t invest. Therefore, my proposal is to use the European Investment Bank and the structural funds of the European budget to create a micro-credit program for Small and Medium Enterprises, and if they employ young people they should get an [incentive] on the interest rates or on the time of reimbursement.

Meanwhile, Guy Verhofstadt, the candidate for the  Liberal Democrats (you can find the summary of their priorities here) argued that the EU needed a push towards further integration in order to take advantage of economies of scale:

VerhofstadtWe need another economic strategy in the European Union. Because, let’s face first of all what is happening: we have badly managed this crisis the last five years. And we are stuck in this [cycle] of austerity, debt, austerity, debt… Finding a way out means a new growth strategy that breaks away from the recipes that have been used over the last years. And my proposal is a strategy in which we use a jump forward in the integration of the European Union and the Single Market as an engine for growth… Let’s use the scale of Europe to escape from the crisis.

Which candidate for European Commission President do YOU want to win? Who do you think will be best able to address issues such as the economy, unemployment and the loss of trust in the EU? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!

68 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    I’ll put my faith in Keller and Schulz. Keller for her activism in trying to achieve change and Schulz, while keeping a similar agenda being more realistic about things. They’d make a good couple.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Christos Karkaboulias
      Agreed, although Mugabe would be a close contender too.

  2. avatar
    Pablo Pastor

    Ska Keller is the most enthusiastic candidate, she has shown a new face of politics. She is inspired by what she says and comes around with proposals especially on immigration.

    • avatar
      Thomas Dalvad

      The Candidate from the European Left. I don’t know why he’s not in the run, I only know he doesn’t speak english(or poorly english) and it makes it hard to do a TV debate with him.

  3. avatar
    Pietro Moroni

    The best politician were clearly Schulz and Verhofstadt. They two were really debating, the other two were just chatting.

    I don’t appreciate Verhofstadt’s ideas but I do recognize that he isat the same level of Schulz as serious politician and person who cares for people and for ideas. They made pretty a good show indeed. :-D

    • avatar
      Thomas Dalvad

      I totally agree with you. Ska and Guy seems like the only ones who fully understand the potential offered by the European Union. they think big and visionary.

  4. avatar

    Guy Verhofstad is the closest of my principles, but Schultz is talking the talk and walking the walk. I put my money on Schultz. I made this exception (this time only, first time and hopefully last one) just because I want a stronger opposition to Merkel’s PPE and her man J.C. Junck.

    • avatar
      Thomas Dalvad

      Have you considered that if ALDE had a good election result, Guy could gather a majority of the Greens and the Social Democrats? see this is a group I would like to see in europe! # GuyForEurope

    • avatar

      I know exactly what you mean, but this time it’s personal. I want to see PPE and Merkel in pain. I will vote following an old say “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

  5. avatar
    Steve Patriarca

    anyone with a reasonable level of education…. Write in vote for Sikorski? PLease no not Schultz – will mean the end of the Union.

  6. avatar
    Karel Van Isacker

    Juncker is the only reasonable option: Schulz is corrupt, Verhofstadt is a unrealistic dreamer with no feeling with what lives in the real day world, and well, Ska is too inexperienced, and Tsipras is a plain incompetent leftish Stalin-esque guy who has no solution except opposing to everything.

    • avatar
      Lorenzo Napoli

      Tsipras for president !

    • avatar
      Thomas Dalvad

      No, you vote for a candidate in your own state, then the new elected members of european parliament will point for a candidate for president of the european commission. Good chance it will be one of them if germany does not opposite.

  7. avatar
    Viorica Axinte

    Zicea Schultz ala ca nu a terminat liceul !!! ioi ,chiar asa?Asta s-a intamplat cand Academia Romana i-a oferit o diploma , cred ca Magna cum laudae … incredibil , dar adevarat !!

  8. avatar

    I’m going with someone who can effectivly curb the rise of putin’s far-right minions, yet all the others except verhofstadt have effectively dodged this problem. Plus verhofstadt doesn’t have a plan that can actually work.

  9. avatar
    Yiannis Dimitriou

    Juncker is the right choice. Schulz is… well Schulz, so absolutely no. Ska’s opinions and proposals don’t sound that realistic, and i think she is only interested in the environmental issues. Guy might be a great choice for BeNeLux and some other countries but he is too liberal for the whole EU, and Tsipras is just a joke. He didn’t even attend the debate… So, Jean-Claude Juncker for me.

  10. avatar
    catherine benning

    Where is Alex Tsipras, why has he been excluded?

    The lot you put up there at the head of this thread are all a selected fix. And each of the them look and sound decidedly creepy. What a bunch of no go areas they are. And the one who was selected for gender control is hilarious.

    I want to see and hear the Greek guy. S, I vote for Tsipras

    • avatar
      Limbidis Arian

      Where is Alex Tsipras, why has he been excluded?
      My question exactly.

      Where is the guy who REALLY has solutions.

  11. avatar
    Paul X

    Well Keller is out for a start, how can any politician dare complain about budget cuts when the taxpaying public are having to make so many cuts themselves. Typical Green attitude, they love to spend other people’s money on their fantasies

  12. avatar
    Savas Ozyurt

    None of the above. I think there should be new and trustworthy people pulling on the ropes!

  13. avatar
    Elise Adeva

    Between this four, clearly Amelia Andersdotter is the best option. She gives hope for a real new Europe, out of corruption. I am starting to believe that having another old man with high ego, will only bring us to fights with other countries and more corrupt people. Sadly, with the only aim of showing how much powerful we are towards the rest of the world. I need a break. We should get over the idea of fighting again each other really….starting from not playing corrupting political games, I leave you without energy, without work or food..c’mon, I though we are big enough for this childish games…I want more more for me… and I am sorry, but thats only possible if we encourage young citizens around Europe, they need to work about it!

  14. avatar

    Why the charades; what’s to choose for us civilians? We al know how chooses the criminals at the top: it’s the corporate elites.

    The people are waking up to this grand scam

  15. avatar
    Limbidis Arian

    Where is Alexis Tsipras?
    He is the real Left candidate. Schultz’s “socialism” means cowering to corporate interests.

    Why have you excluded him?

  16. avatar

    I’m gonna vote for Tsipras, but at this debate I would have chosen Verhofstadt, followed by Keller.

  17. avatar

    Center Left aka “socialists” is a better bet in time of economic crisis/slowdown or not at all investments in national economies, than extreme left aka “communists”. Both are way better than neoconservative aka PPE (by the way, the only genuine centre right is ALDE ). Populars in fact just protect the interests of the rich few and neglect the wishes of many, lowering taxes for the rich and bankers and give them free hand in collect hidden fees, phone tapping, email and browsing history recording and archiving, increasing the figures of import/export from or to Russia, fighting thru favourable media against alleged “welfare benefits immigrants”, allow and even encouraging the ascension of far right politicians in mainstream politics, outsourcing jobs to Asia, pointing fingers toward escape goats (as Romania and Bulgaria) for their own failures, getting rich by the end of their mandate as well getting high paid jobs in boards of big companies as lobbyists, etc

  18. avatar
    Luis Prenda

    I vote by positive! The politician is…

  19. avatar
    Antonio Jose Pecurto Pecurto

    A Europa tem uma Democracia moderna a Europa precisa de criar um sistema democrtico federal a Unio federal faz a fora maior no mundo mas essa fora maior ter que respeitar muitas regas humanas ambientais lutar por uma agenda de desenvolvimento sustentvel dentro do espao da europa

  20. avatar

    Ska Keller had the most “refreshing” ideas for Europe, Verhofstadt had the most “nerve”

  21. avatar

    Ska Keller won the debate. She won’t win the EC presidency though.

  22. avatar
    Torben Lechner

    Amelia Andersdotter or Peter Sunde from the european pirate party would have wpm the presidential debate, but you didn’t even invite them, althouth they’re officially candidates for the presidential candidates – . Are you scared of them ? Are you scared of real democracy ?

  23. avatar

    In a large extent, Mr Schulz managed to advocate for a social change in the European society, human rights, universal principles of democracy…

  24. avatar

    Where is the photo of Mr Tsipra :) This is the democracy of europe :)

  25. avatar
    Thomas Dalvad

    Martin won. He showed a deep concern for all European hit by poverty, he don’t care where you from, but want to use the power the parliament and commission has to change that. Hopefully one day a working budget will be accepted.

  26. avatar

    That Europe…….. Thank you Europe for the democracy you offer…… Even if the last candidate was the worst of all time YOU had to include him you ought to include him…..Why exclude him? because he is against your beliefs?
    In democracy everyone was the devine right to tell his opinion and NONE can deprive it from him…..Is this democracy is this the Europe you want?
    Anti-Democratic…….. thats all i have to say
    Thank you Europe……….

  27. avatar

    None can deprive NONE of the liberte of speach this is a sacred right…..

  28. avatar

    The debate format was awful – 5 candidates asked to compete in their ability to speak English in 30secs. Kudos to Alexis Tsipras for speaking in his mother tongue – and why shouldn’t he? … Juncker, Schulz and Verhofstadt same ol’, same ol’.

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