EM Ireland: Who will be the next President of the European Commission?
No one can be sure who will be the next European Commission President, replacing the current incumbent Jean-Claude Juncker. But this is not only because of uncertainty about the results of the forthcoming European Parliament elections across the EU from 23-26 May. It is also because the procedure for appointing the next President of the European Commission has not been fully settled upon between all national governments and the European Parliament.
In 2014, for the first time, national governments approved the appointment of the lead candidate (often referred to in EU jargon as the Spitzenkandidat, from the German term) of the largest political group at the European Parliament after elections that year – then namely, Mr. Juncker of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP, which includes Fine Gael and German Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats).
The idea was that the President of the European Commission, the body that drafts EU laws and monitors their implementation, should have a more direct democratic mandate from EU citizens. This time (elections to the European Parliament are held every five years), however, not all national governments, such as France, remainconvinced by the Spitzenkandidat process, in part because some think Juncker’s Commission has been too political based on that 2014 mandate.
Some of those governments would prefer the Commission to act more like a neutral civil service, than part of the EU executive with its own democratic mandate from the European Parliament (and by extension EU citizens). Some other governments are just not keen on the main lead candidates of the European Parliament political groups.
The question, therefore, is not so much who will be the next President of the European Commission, but whether that person is elected via the European Parliament elections, selected by the democratically–electednational governments, or a mix of both.