Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
«Spitzenkandidat literally means top candidate or party list leader. The German word entered the European Union lexicon in 2013 after the centre left Party of European Socialists committed itself to naming a Spitzenkandidat for the next EU parliamentary elections. The Spitzenkandidat would then become the party’s choice for the EU’s most high-profile job – European Commission president. The PES has argued that picking a Spitzenkandidat would democratise the process of selecting the commission president. But the concept only gained momentum in December 2013 when the centre right European People’s Party decided to do the same, despite the objections of some of its high profile leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. » [Financial Times]
«The 2014 European Parliament (EP) elections introduced a novel procedure to elect the President of the European Commission: the so-called Spitzenkandidaten, i.e. pan-European lead candidates nominated by the European political parties. The two main purposes behind this innovation were to mobilise the electorate and to strengthen the EP. The first use of the Spitzenkandidaten model established a new modus operandi of the EP at the expense of the European Council, which now has to appoint the lead candidate whose party won most seats in the European elections. However, it also contributed to polarising citizens’ attitudes towards the EU and did not overcome the tendency to compete in European elections on purely national issues. Future adjustments of the Spitzenkandidaten procedure should aim to improve the EU’s responsiveness and make the elections more European. Introducing primaries for the nominations of the Spitzenkandidaten could be a first step, eventually leading to the direct election of the Commission President.» [Fonte]
«The EU needs a more democratic way to choose its leaders. ….
It is less than two years to the start of the next round of Brussels’ favorite contest: determining who gets the European Union’s top jobs. And already some wannabe successors to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are floating up candidate kites.
For once, there are some more than competent possibilities in the existing Commission. But the current so-called Spitzenkandidat system makes the election of the medieval-era Holy Roman Emperor seem transparent and democratic. It needs to be reformed. Failure to do so would play into the hands of Euroskeptics everywhere.»
Diamo voce ad un vecchio articolo comparso sul The Guardian del giugno 2014.
Come fare a far eleggere Mr Juncker che era popolare come la scabbia?
«Outside of Luxembourg, it is difficult to find anyone in the EU elite who believes Juncker is the right person at the right time for Europe. “He’s the wrong answer to the wrong question,” said a senior EU diplomat.»
«Jean-Claude Juncker had been nominated by 26 votes to 2. »
«To understand Juncker’s improbable rise, it is necessary to go back to the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. The former Luxembourg prime minister landed the job by an overwhelming majority because national leaders sleepwalked into a trap laid by federalist schemers in the European parliament and could not summon the will to do anything about it, just as they appear to have overlooked reading the fine print of the legal text that governs Europe»
«It’s done a lot of damage»
«Last month’s ballot was the first under the new rules, which stipulate that the leaders have to make their nomination in the light of the election results. The parliament must endorse the nominee by an absolute majority of seats»
«It was Martin Schulz, the German social democrat and parliamentary speaker, who forced the issue last year. He gained the support of Europe’s centre-left leaders, except for Britain’s Labour party, led the social democrats’ election campaign and became their contender for commission head if they won the election.»
«Van Rompuy argued that putting up candidates for the commission in the elections was meaningless because a leftist in Portugal would not vote for a German green and a Polish conservative would not vote for a Luxembourger»
«naming the candidates severely restricted the field, discouraged a higher calibre of senior politician from running because they did not want to risk forfeiting their domestic careers and then not get the job»
* * * * * * * *
Questa è la posizione del gruppo Visegrad.
«According to the June 2014 European Council conclusions we should further consider the process for the appointment of the President of the European Commission. When addressing the key institutional issues of the EU in February, in particular the Spitzenkandidaten mechanism the results of our debates must be in full compliance with the Treaties and should not undermine the current balance between the EU institutions and among the Member States. From this perspective we disagree with the establishment of a transnational list. We are convinced that the number of seats in the European Parliament needs to be reduced. As encompassed by the Treaties, the democratic control of Member States over legislative and political processes of the EU should follow the principle of subsidiarity»
Lo Spitzenkandidat system sembrerebbe essere tutto fuorché lecitamente democratico.
Che poi serva agli eurocrati a nominare chiunque vogliano, questo è un altro paio di maniche. Anche Caligola nominò senatore il proprio cavallo.
Nel parlamento Europeo, il numero minimo di deputati richiesto per costituire un gruppo politico è fissato in 25 deputati, provenienti da almeno un quarto degli stati membri (attualmente 7). Coloro che non appartengono a nessun gruppo politico si collocano tra i non iscritti. Un deputato non può aderire a più gruppi politici.
→ EUobserver. 2018-01-28. Visegrad Four oppose transnational lists for EP
The Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, known as the Visegrad Four, “disagree with the establishment of a transnational list” for the European Parliament elections, they said in a statement Friday. Transnational lists would be single party lists for which citizens could vote from different member states. The V4 countries also oppose the ‘Spitzenkandidat’ system of the winning European political party’s main candidate becoming the EU Commission president.
→ The Guardian. 2014-06-27. The EU’s ‘democratic’ system that elected a president nobody wants
It was a glorious summer evening in Scandinavia bathed in eternal light. Over dinner prepared by a top TV chef, a prime minister divulged his thoughts about European politics. “I’m a bit worried that the European parliament seems to be getting all these new powers,” he said. The year was 2009, the EU’s Lisbon Treaty was just about to come into force. The prime minister’s admission was surprising because it was his and the other governments of the EU that had written the treaty, not the parliament or any other EU institution.
“We know that the parliament gets more powers, but why did your governments do that? Didn’t you read the treaty?” the prime minister was asked. He gave no answer.
Fast forward five years and another meal, this time in Brussels. Over gazpacho, turbot with chervil, and chocolate and apricot pastries, the result was announced of the issue that has given European leaders indigestion for weeks. Jean-Claude Juncker had been nominated by 26 votes to 2. David Cameron bristled and demanded a show of hands. Just for the record. The English Channel suddenly widened.
There is a distinct line of cause and effect from the Scandinavian restaurant to the Brussels luncheon.
Outside of Luxembourg, it is difficult to find anyone in the EU elite who believes Juncker is the right person at the right time for Europe. “He’s the wrong answer to the wrong question,” said a senior EU diplomat.
To understand Juncker’s improbable rise, it is necessary to go back to the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. The former Luxembourg prime minister landed the job by an overwhelming majority because national leaders sleepwalked into a trap laid by federalist schemers in the European parliament and could not summon the will to do anything about it, just as they appear to have overlooked reading the fine print of the legal text that governs Europe.
A catalogue of complacency, negligence, miscalculation and manoeuvring by national leaders over the past nine months conspired to deliver an outcome no one really wanted – Jean-Claude Juncker, Europe’s accidental president.
Arguments about Juncker’s suitability only took place after the horse had bolted, too late to reverse the momentum supplied by last month’s European elections.
“The leaders individually and collectively didn’t quite understand what this was about,” said the diplomat. “But in the parliament they were devoted to this and they have more time to deal with it.”
Another senior official in Brussels said: “We are at the point of no return. It’s done a lot of damage. Now it’s about damage limitation.”
This sorry tale of mismanagement and ineptitude by Europe’s national governments over the past year has saddled the EU with a powerful executive chief for the next five years whom many of them think is not fit for purpose. “The question is, will he be able to manage a large, complex bureaucracy in the 21st century,” said another senior EU official, reflecting widespread worries about his management credentials.
David Cameron is taking a lot of the blame. His uncompromising public campaign to destroy Juncker might have had heads nodding privately in agreement. But his indirect threats to quit the EU if he lost were perceived as bullying and blackmail, turning the commission president contest into a counter-productive zero sum game – support Cameron or Juncker.
Cameron was not alone in his miscalculation. There is enough blame to go round. The fight over Juncker feature double-crossing, broken promises, manipulative spinning, and leaders pirouetting in 180-degree U-turns within days.Juncker’s ascendancy has its roots a decade back in the Convention on Europe that prepared the EU’s doomed constitution, felled in 2005, but resurrected by the Germans in 2007 in the form of the Lisbon Treaty that came into force at the end of 2009.
Influential federalists in the European parliament such as Elmar Brok or Klaus Welle, both German Christian Democrats, the latter the invisible but powerful parliament general-secretary, were determined to dilute the prerogative of the national leaders to decide who heads the commission, the EU’s executive. They pushed for a more “democratic” option, making the choice of commission president turn on the result of European elections.
“If it’s not Juncker, we have a big crisis,” Brok told The Guardian. “No one else will get through the parliament. Who else can get a parliamentary majority?”
Last month’s ballot was the first under the new rules, which stipulate that the leaders have to make their nomination in the light of the election results. The parliament must endorse the nominee by an absolute majority of seats (a session is tentatively scheduled for 16 or 17 July).
It was Martin Schulz, the German social democrat and parliamentary speaker, who forced the issue last year. He gained the support of Europe’s centre-left leaders, except for Britain’s Labour party, led the social democrats’ election campaign and became their contender for commission head if they won the election.
The argument was that this was a fairer, more democratic, more transparent way of “electing” a commission chief, empowering Europe’s voters. “It was me who started it. But it was followed by many others,” Schulz told the Guardian over a recent lunch. “We’re in a moment of deepening democratic and parliamentarian structures. It’s not about reducing the power of heads of government. It’s about bringing more clarity and transparency. I want to bring this through. This is my personal ambition.”
Schulz’s gambit last year had a snowball effect. Liberals, greens and the hard left in the parliament followed suit and selected election campaign leaders who were also their contenders for the commission post. National leaders were caught napping. They continued dozing.
The momentum created by Schulz put Angela Merkel in a tight spot. Her Christian Democrats lead the parliament’s European People’s party, the biggest caucus. They were now under pressure to follow Schulz’s lead for fear of appearing undemocratic.
The euro crisis brought Merkel to the fore as unarguably the most powerful politician in Europe. Her approach throughout was to sideline the European institutions and preserve the crisis management as the remit of national governments. She was not about to surrender those same national powers over who should head the commission.
But she was forced to. In March she went to an EPP congress in Dublin and supported the nomination of Juncker through gritted teeth against his rival, Michel Barnier of France. She went further than merely backing Juncker, actively lobbying other centre-right leaders such as Spain’s Mariano Rajoy to support the Luxembourger.
The reason was that, while Cameron was gearing up for his aggressive Stop Juncker campaign, Merkel’s priority became increasingly to stop Schulz, believing that having a social democrat at the top of the commission would imperil her euro crisis austerity and structural reform prescriptions. Merkel did not particularly want Juncker. But she wanted Schulz a lot less. Herman Van Rompuy, the EU summit’s chairman, whose lot it was to sort out a situation getting messier and more volatile by the day, was also an ardent opponent of Juncker and of parliamentary primacy in the contest.
Van Rompuy argued that putting up candidates for the commission in the elections was meaningless because a leftist in Portugal would not vote for a German green and a Polish conservative would not vote for a Luxembourger. Besides, naming the candidates severely restricted the field, discouraged a higher calibre of senior politician from running because they did not want to risk forfeiting their domestic careers and then not get the job.
With Berlin dominating the dispute and Cameron baying increasingly loudly from the sidelines, it is perhaps one measure of Germany’s new pre-eminence in Europe that the entire fiasco acquired a German term – Spitzenkandidaten or frontrunners.
When the EPP or Christian democrats emerged as the election victors with 221 of 751 seats, 30 ahead of the social democrats and well down on 2009, national leaders began to panic at the realisation they were stuck with Juncker.
On May 27 two days after the election, the leaders dined in Brussels to chew over their predicament. Van Rompuy was told to fix it. Merkel suppressed demands for an immediate vote on the Juncker nomination, playing for time. Cameron rolled out his big weapon – if Juncker gets it, Britain might well quit the EU. The shock-and-awe tactics did not work.
But at a midnight press conference in Brussels, Merkel hummed and hawed, suggested it might not be Juncker and triggered the most hostile grilling from the German media she has ever encountered at an EU summit. TV reporters stood up to accuse her of breaking her promises to German voters, of betrayal, of double-dealing. Merkel appeared nonplussed, struggling to reconcile her positions as leader of the Christian Democrats with that of leader of the most important EU country.
“If she said no to Juncker, she would have been in the same position as Cameron in London,” said Brok. “And her big problem is that she would be accused of election betrayal.”
Over the next 10 days the leaders were all over the place. Mark Rutte of the Netherlands backed Cameron, then he did not, voiced his opposition to Spitzenkandidaten in principle, then conceded Juncker might get it after all.
At the same Brussels press conference, Merkel said she would not be rushed into a decision, there was plenty of time. A week later a leaked Dutch diplomatic cable had her demanding a very quick decision, that she had made her mind up that it would be Juncker.
Van Rompuy’s people whispered that Juncker would do everyone a favour by falling on his sword, he would “voluntarily withdraw”. A week later the same people were confirming that Van Rompuy had concluded there was no alternative to Juncker.
Merkel, meanwhile, had to resolve her biggest problem – what to do about Schulz. The former Aachen bookseller, buoyed by his triumph in setting a fait accompli before Europe’s elected leaders, neither looked nor sounded like a man who had just lost a European election.
It was a double-act with Juncker. The Luxembourger had offered him the plum post of vice-president of the commission, Schulz told the Guardian. That meant Schulz had to be Germany’s EU commissioner, a step too far for Merkel.
In Berlin she cut a deal with her coalition partner, Sigmar Gabriel, the SPD leader. Juncker got a green light for the commission job, but Schulz would need to be bought off by remaining parliament chief for 30 months. Gabriel agreed, while declaring “it has to be a Juncker-Schulz axis”.
Cameron appeared chastened, felt betrayed by Berlin. If his campaign was driven by internal Conservative party politics, he was out-manoeuvred by the exigencies of German domestic politics and Merkel’s ruthlessness. He’s not the only loser in a battle with few winners.
“There’s a lot of discomfort now in the European council about being landed in this,” said one of the senior diplomats. “But it’s too late to do anything about it.”