Merkel and Macron meeting Tusk.

Are we back to negotiating behind closed doors? The so-called “Spitzenkandidaten” process was supposed to help elect a successor to Jean-Commission President Claude Juncker out in the open, following a public campaign by all candidates. However, a question mark now hangs over the entire process, leading some to conclude we’re returning to political horsetrading in back rooms (though at least they’re no longer smoke-filled).

How did we get here? According to the European treaties, the EU Council has the right to propose (taking into account the results of the European Parliament elections) the next EU Commission President. Crucially, however, the European Parliament is given the right to veto their choice, in which case the EU Council must propose a different candidate within one month. Therefore, under the Spitzenkandidaten process first introduced ahead of the 2014 EU elections, Parliament had argued that the lead candidate of the party that received the most votes should become the new President of the European Commission.

Yet the candidate of the centre-right, Manfred Weber, whose European People’s Party topped the polls but failed to achieve an overall majority, has been unable to create a parliamentary majority beyond his own political group. This is hardly unprecedented in a parliamentary system, and would normally lead to fresh elections or lengthy coalition negotiations (in 2010, for example, Belgium infamously went 589 days without a government).

So, fresh elections or lengthy negotiations? Neither of these options seem likely or practical (particularly with a possible “no-deal” Brexit looming in October), hence the EU Council’s current struggle to get around the Spitzenkandidaten process. And “struggle” is the right word; at an EU summit on 20-21 June 2019, the European Council found themselves unable to agree a majority for any candidate, finally throwing in the towel and adjourning at 2 o’clock in the morning.

At this point, it looks like none of the Spitzenkandidaten can form a confirmatory majority in the European Parliament. Unless somebody backs down, then we are in for lengthy negotiations by default. It is possible that a majority can be formed by offering the Social Democrats, Liberals, and Greens choice positions in the new European Commission.

The Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has been suggested as a compromise centre-right candidate. However, his appointment would essentially mean the parliament was handing the power to choose a Commission President back to the European Council. And, of course, Manfred Weber would need to be convinced to step aside (possibly under pressure from leaders or his own MEPs). This seems unlikely, given that Angela Merkel is still backing him and he was recently re-elected chair of the EPP. Nevertheless, stranger things have happened in politics recently.

Who will the next EU Commission President be? The next summit in Brussels is planned for June 30, so maybe we’ll know by then. Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: © European Union – European Council

65 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Seems the EU’s “democratic” veil is dropping- exposing quandary and consternation within the highest echelon? Surely, “they” need a quick (undemocratic) fix.

    If votes from the electorate are of no help, the Lisbon Treaty has run out of paragraphs, horsetrading between the select & strongest in the EU fail, one could always use the traditional decision making game of head or tail!

    What a democratic conundrum- not better than the UK perplexity!
    Supranational democracy is just too complicated for most!

  2. avatar

    Who cares? Liberals and Socialists now are United for the worst

  3. avatar

    Hopefully a sane and sober person.

  4. avatar

    Based on my drinking habits I’m the perfect replacement…

  5. avatar

    Whoever he / she will be it will be decided by a german french agreement. No one else matters in Europe.

    • avatar

      And that’s good so!

    • avatar

      Why do you still call it Europe and not German dominion?

  6. avatar

    Whoever it is, it will be a stitch up arranged behind doors with no democratic accountability.

    • avatar

      God helph me! She has already ruined Germany and Europe!

  7. avatar

    I hope that the European heads of state or government will prefer German Manfred Weber to Dutch Frans Timmermans. Anyway, also the European Parliament has a saying in this matter.🤔

  8. avatar

    Frans Timmermans is the one for it.

  9. avatar

    Looking forward to the reorientarion of the the Commission. The new weight of the green party, the digital agenda and the research (let’s hope more on cancer). And I hope that those that know nothing about Europe and are gridlocked in a mental state of paranoia can actually learn something until the next elections. :) Let’s go EU !

  10. avatar

    How do you get in the European parliament?

  11. avatar

    Why shouldn’t the European people choose that the people who choose now, choose the one with the biggest hands, so the biggest greedy

  12. avatar

    Debating ?! Corruptie is this !

  13. avatar

    Lets talk about what’ s init for me ! Who can we left out ( one name curruption !

  14. avatar


  15. avatar

    Lobbying will decide, not competence. The European system as it is at present is doomed anyway. Shipwreck may not be far-away.

  16. avatar

    All the people in this image are pure globalist marxist evil

  17. avatar

    It doesn’t matter. Nothing is going to change. Corporate governance as usual. No reformes, no progress, less freedom of speech.

  18. avatar

    Europ must move Anather country Dimocratie country Such as London Ammestardam Paris Or must Every Tein years New member Eu

  19. avatar

    If it si the belgian prime minister charles Michel, it becomes a Pitty
    His last government go away with 10 milliards euros of déficit.
    He s unable to drive europa correctly in the hard days for europa.

  20. avatar

    Where is democracy? Is this small group of failed politicians going to choose the new leader? We had an alcoholic for five years. In a Democracy people choose.

  21. avatar

    It will be decided by the Germans…. business as usual

  22. avatar

    I’m in favor of a person of great will and strong character. We need to infuse new energy and set bold new goals for the eu.

  23. avatar

    best thing to do: end Europa !

  24. avatar

    No one you are all crazy smoking lunatics 😁

  25. avatar

    It is sure that this person will take our money and that he will be payed to much😱😱😱

  26. avatar

    as the question at the Bilderberg board !!!!

  27. avatar

    I can drink a ton and still stand up. Think it should be me.

  28. avatar

    Well whoever it is they can’t be worse than the drunken buffoon currently in the job.What really needs to happen now is for the national leaders to agree to drastically scale back the powers of the commission and the European parliament,telling them both that they(the national leaders) are the representatives of the people and they will ultimately make the decisions.That way with there powers reduced it wont really matter which of these nonentities currently being mentioned gets the jobs.

  29. avatar

    I don’t know, why don’t they let the people choose him/her?

  30. avatar

    Is this democracy? Four people decide the two most inportant posts.

  31. avatar

    Hahahaha…..and they call this democracy……….liars.
    Brexit and hopefully others too.

  32. avatar

    Whoever the person it doesn’t matter, because he or she, are selected just to be a mere puppet, giving a face to someone else’s policies.

  33. avatar

    Trust in the EU is highest in Lithuania (65%), therefore the candidates from Lithuania could be supported?

  34. avatar

    EU leaders to decide the next president of the European Commission?
    Wasn’t that supposed to be a “democratic process”?

  35. avatar

    Not a Socialist, please. Se have enough of that

  36. avatar

    Select anyone from the names that have been put on the table. Imagine him/her standing next to Trump or Putin.
    What do you see?

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