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Next President of the European Commission: candidates and process



There is a change in Europe that will shape the next five years of policymaking in the region.

Four of the highest jobs in the EU will be vacant before the end of the year and the race to fill them has already begun. Europe will have a new President of its Parliament (Legislature), its European Council (Heads of State), the European Central Bank and the Commission (Executive). Attention now focuses more on the latter as he or she will determine which direction Europe will take.

What is the European Commission?

It proposes new laws and is generally regarded as the government of the European Union.

It is formed by a Commissioner from each Member State and its President. The different policy areas ̵

1; finance, migration and foreign affairs – are distributed among the 28 officials.

European Union (EU) flags blowing from flagpoles outside the Berlaymont building.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

How is the president elected?

The European Union is still struggling to see how this actually happens.

There is a procedure called the Lead candidate, in which the next President of the Commission is elected on the basis of the number of members votes each European political party receives. This means that the political family with the highest number of seats in the European Parliament appoints one of its members to take over the role.

This happened in the last elections in 2014, during which the largest political party in the European Parliament – the conservative EPP (European People's Party) – appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission.

However, some countries see this process as a "democratic anomaly". The heads of state and government want to have the last word on who gets the highest job in Brussels.

"The idea that the lead candidate process is somehow more democratic is wrong," said European Council President Donald Tusk last year.

Who are the candidates?

Despite the dispute over the selection process, some European parties have suggested their leading candidates.

The EPP – the conservative right-wing party – has elected Manfred Weber. He is a German citizen and has served as legislator in Brussels for 10 years. Commenting on the April section process, he told CNBC: "There is no competition between institutions, people outside Brussels are not interested in this institutional perspective." He added that he had the support of nine EU Member States, which he called a "good start".

The election of the next President of the European Commission will be decided by a formal decision of EU Heads of State. This means that the United Kingdom can have a say in this process if they so wish. Otherwise, Prime Minister Theresa May may decide to abstain in view of the country's planned withdrawal from the European Union this year. In any case, the next Commission President will be elected by qualified majority, which means that they will have to receive a certain number of votes from leaders who make up a certain proportion of the region's 500 million inhabitants.

S & D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) – The Socialist Party has appointed Dutchman Frans Timmermans as Vice-President of the European Commission. In his job he has challenged Poland, Hungary and Romania because of their attitude to the rule of law.

ECR – The Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists has selected Jan Zahradil, a Czech legislator in the European Parliament.

EFA – The European Free Alliance, which brings together various regional political parties from Scotland to Spain, has appointed the currently imprisoned Oriol Junqueras. He was a member of the Catalan Parliament and supported the independence of the region from the rest of Spain. He told CNBC by e-mail that, despite his detention, he had spoken in favor of "denouncing and combating suppression by Spain".

Other parties have decided to propose more than one candidate to give European leaders more room to vote on the EU next president.

ALDE (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – The Liberal Party in the European Parliament nominated seven candidates and named them "Team Europe". In this group there is the influential Margrethe Vestager, currently acting as EU Competition Commissioner.

She told CNBC that the next European Commission should focus on climate change, cybersecurity and a bright future for the younger generations.

] In the meantime, the Greens have decided to nominate two people: the German legislator Ska Keller and the Dutch politician Bas Eickhout. The European Left Party also elected two members to potential Commission leaders: Violeta Tomic from Slovenia and Nico Cue, a former Belgian trade union leader.

Any unofficial candidates?

Michel Barnier during a press conference after a meeting of EU finance ministers at the headquarters of the European Council in Brussels, Belgium.

Jasper Juinen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Given the ambiguity of the process, not official names are bustling in the corridors of Brussels. These include: Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator for Brexit; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; and Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister. In the end, the next President of the European Commission could also be someone who is currently not on the list.


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