EU institutions resist collision on Spitzenkandidat process, agree to shift EU budget priorities

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

EU commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk during informal European Heads of States or Governments summit on the Sahel in Brussels, Belgium, 23 February 2018.

EU institutions resist collision on Spitzenkandidat process, agree to shift EU budget priorities


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The informal meeting of the EU-27 in Brussels is over, but the race for the ambitious deadline set by the European Commission for reaching an agreement on the shape of the 2021-2027 budget by the end of the year is not over, even though the European Council president Donald Tusk believes it seems difficult.

The European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, told journalists at a news conference on Friday that he was surprised that the debate n the EU budget was not as great as he expected, as 14-15 leaders agreed to contribute more money to the joint pot to compensate for the loss of revenue after Brexit becomes reality in 2019. So as on the financial front, there was no clash, Juncker and Tusk confirmed at the final press conference. The spending priorities have been confirmed: “Immigration, defense, security, Erasmus +”.

Spitzenkandidaten process is “not automatic”

Probably the hottest topic was how the next committee chairman is elected, as The European Parliament and the European Council are in danger of colliding. The parliament wants to name the Spitzenkandidaten itself as candidate of a political group that gets the most votes in the European elections, as the procedure was used in the last elections. Juncker is also in favor of this. A large majority of the Eu

The conversation among EU leaders on Friday focused on the question of “automaticity”,  whether the Council could legally commit in advance to automatically putting forward one of the lead candidates as its nominee. The majority of EU leaders rejected an automatic mechanism for selecting the next Commission president that they believe strips them of the power to pick Europe’s most senior official, with France, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia , Latvia and Portugal opposing and the Social Democratic Prime Ministers of Italy, Sweden, Malta and the leftist Greece expressed their support for the Spitzenkandidaten system on Friday’s meeting.

“The idea that the Spitzenkandidat process is somehow more democratic is wrong,” was Tusk’s answer to why the Council does not want the same things as the European Parliament. Tusk rather suggested that a candidate chosen by the European Parliament and the European Council secures the European Commission’s president “double legitimacy”.

As for Juncker’s proposal for the double president, the single head of both the EU Commission and the EU Council, it was the only part of the discussion where talks were not friendly.

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