Juncker or Schulz for EU Commission? Or another candidate?

The EPP won the EU elections, but would you say that Jean-Claude Juncker is now good positioned to become  a  new President of the EC? Or Martin  Schulz, or the others still have a chance? Read few comments.

Hylke DijkstraAssistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Maastricht University

Jean-Claude Juncker is now the obvious candidate to become the next President of the European Commission. If he finds a majority in the European Parliament over the next few days, there is very little that the national leaders in the European Council can do. The European Parliament, after all, holds a veto. The biggest risk, he faces, is that Martin Schulz and Guy Verhofstadt deny Juncker his victory. If petty politics in the European Parliament continues for weeks, national leaders may decide to nominate someone else. The chance that Martin Schulz still ends up as the next Commission President, after having lost the elections, seems very small.

Diāna PotjomkinaResearch Fellow, Latvian Institute of International Affairs

In what regards Juncker: according to the Article 17.7 of the Treaty on the European Union, “Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission. This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. If he does not obtain the required majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall within one month propose a new candidate who shall be elected by the European Parliament following the same procedure. [..]”. Juncker is a well respected and well known candidate so I see no problem why in this case the representative of the winning European party should not become the Commission president – after all, this link between the EP elections and the nomination of the EC president has been heavily advertised in the run-up to the elections. 

Simon UsherwoodAssociate Dean, Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics, University of Surrey

 Juncker would look like the candidate with the best chance of getting appointed, but it is still not clear if the process is going to be acceptable to member states. One could imagine a prime minister looking to block such an appointment, to serve their domestic political agenda. I expect many, long discussions ahead.

Aline SierpLecturer in European Studies, Maastricht University

The EPP won but it lost over 50 seats compared the last European elections in 2009. This alone has been reason enough for Martin Schulz and the European Socialists to contest Jean Claude Juncker’s reach for the highest political office in the EU. Schulz on the other hand needs support from at least one other major party to be in the position to claim the Commission president’s office for himself. The European Greens would be an obvious partner, however, their party leader Cohn-Bendit has already indicated that his party might not be prepared to support the PES candidate. Despite these differences in opinion, all political groups agree on one thing: the next President should either come from the group that won most seats or it should be the candidate that gets most support from the different groups. Taking this into account, Guy Verhofstadt has actually better chances to win than either Juncker or Schulz.

Christian SchweigerLecturer in Government, Department of Politics, Durham University

I think the outcome puts both Juncker and Schulz in a difficult position. Juncker is probably in the more difficult one because it seems that he does not have the full backing of centre-right governments in the EU. According to German media sources Orban has already announced that he will not agree to the Council backing Juncker and Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia seems to consider leaving the EPP. Although Cameron’s Tories are no longer in the EPP his opposition to Juncker may also make it very difficult for Merkel and other centre-right governments to get him through as the recommended Council candidate. I would also think that Hollande, who is under intense pressure following the strong result for the Front Nationale in France, will be keen to appear strong and push for a mandate for Schulz.

The whole thing is most likely to result in a sort of power struggle between the leaders in the Council and the new European Parliament. The latter is likely to insist that the new Commission president needs to be backed by a majority and this could lead to Juncker or also Schulz being elected by a multi-group coalition (potentially with the support of the Liberals and the Nordic Greens). Juncker however emphasised yesterday that he would reject the mandate if it emerged on the basis of support from populist or far right MEPs. The biggest problem will emerge if the leaders in the Council cannot agree on either Juncker and Schulz and come up with a compromise candidate. Both Juncker and Schulz are then likely to accuse the leaders of ignoring the will of the voters and it could also lead to a situation where the European Parliament refuses to back the compromise candidate, leading to a prolonged power struggle and a leaderless Commission.

Roman GerodimosSenior Lecturer in Global Current Affairs, The Media School, Bournemouth University

The Lisbon Treaty is sufficiently vague when it comes to determining the process of selecting and appointing the President of the European Commission. Strictly speaking the European Council could consider and then decide to ignore the outcome of the election and simply appoint another person. Given the level of public debate about this I don’t think that would be a wise move and, given the high expectations, I would expect one or more of the five candidates – certainly Juncker, possibly Schulz, maybe even Verhofstadt – to continue to play a leading role within the institutions of the EU.

Carolin RügerInstitute for Political Science and Social Research – European Research and International Relations, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

In my opinion, Juncker is in a good position at the moment. Although Orban and Cameron are campaigning against him they don’t have a blocking minority in the European Council.

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