EU CRISIS: Parliament set to REVOLT against 'backroom stitch-up' to replace Juncker


MEPs, who have a casting vote on the next European Commission president, have rounded on German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen’s nomination for the role. EU leaders have been accused of ignoring democracy by facilitating a backroom stitch-up for the bloc’s top jobs package in Brussels yesterday afternoon. A growing list of members of the European Parliament are insisting they will find it incredibly tough to support the European Council’s desired appointments.

Much of the criticism centred around the abandonment of the so-called lead candidate (spitzenkandidat) process, which is designed to give a democratic mandate to the Commission presidency.

Instead, leaders held a series of closed-door meetings across three days as they frantically scrambled to fill Mr Juncker’s role before he is scheduled to step down at the end of October.

MEPs are expected to vote on Ms von der Leyen’s appointment in two weeks time, which could prove a tricky process for the German.

She requires an absolute majority, according to the Parliament’s rules, and if she fails EU leaders must propose another candidate “within a month’s time”.

The European Greens have voiced anger at the selection, and their 74 MEPs are set to vote against the package, according to group sources.

Greens were concerned that the European Council had made part the Parliament’s presidency part of its overall package.

Ska Keller, the Greens co-president, said: “This backroom stitch-up after days of talks is grotesque, it satisfies no one but party power games. After such a high turnout in the European elections and a real mandate for change, this is not what European citizens deserve.

“We don’t need the smallest common denominator satisfying personal interest and party politics. We need a dynamic for political change in Europe and this is not offered by this package.”

Philippe Lamberts, also a co-president of the group, added: “The Parliament must decide on its Presidency independently from European governments and not leave this down to a poorly cooked-up compromise in the Council.

“That’s why we stand firmly behind our European Parliament presidential candidate, Ska Keller. The Parliament should not let the council dictate its presidency.

“We are fighting for a Parliamentary democracy. We need a fairer, more social and environmentally friendly Europe that works for citizens and we will fight to ensure that the EU works to achieve this over the next five years.”

Ms Keller, a German MEP, is one of four candidates who MEPs will vote on today to become the European Parliament president.

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, has recommended that the Parliament choose social democrat and Europe People’s Party MEPs to share the presidency.

He also urged MEPs to select a president from Eastern or Central Europe to deliver a geographical balance to the top jobs.

Sergei Stanishev, the Bulgarian head of the Party of European Socialists, features amongst the nominations.

But MEPs are concerned that the high-profile role may reveal secrets from his past and alleged corruption, according to a parliamentary source.

The Socialists and Democrats have vowed to vote against the package after their Commission presidency candidate Frans Timmermans was rejected.

The S&D’s Spanish leader, Iratxe Garcia, said: “Ursula von der leyen is unacceptable as head of the EU Commission for social democrats.

“We cannot simply throw the top candidate principle overboard because the results of the election do not sure some heads of government.”

Ms von der Leyen will travel to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to begin her bid to win over MEPs before the vote on her appointment.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here