European leaders must show united front on Spitzenkandidaten process


European leaders from 27 member countries will meet in Brussels on 23 February for an informal meeting to discuss institutional issues, including the composition of the European Parliament post-Brexit, and the Spitzenkandidaten or lead-candidate procedure.

This process allows European political parties to designate one candidate each for the post of EU Commission President. Luxembourgish politician Jean-Claude Juncker has been serving as president since 2014. The next European elections are set for 2019.

Commenting ahead of the meeting on Friday, European Green Party co-chairs Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer said:

“It is of fundamental importance that European leaders meeting in Brussels on Friday give their backing to the Spitzenkandidaten process. We believe this is the most straightforward, transparent, and fair option currently on the table for European citizens to elect a leader capable of standing up for their interests. It also ensures a direct link between voting for a political family and the person elected to head the Commission. Reneging on this process now, is not only irresponsible but also potentially dangerous.

The fragile good-will built up for the EU in the wake of the UK’s decision to quit the European Union could easily be destabilised. Selecting a candidate must respect the Lisbon Treaty, which states that the president of the Commission must be chosen taking into account the results of European parliament elections. Indeed, it is not within the remit of the European Council to deny political families from choosing their own candidate. Attempting to abandon the lead-candidate would also indicate that calls for a more open, transparent, and democratic EU are falling on the deaf ears of European ‘leaders’.

People are at the heart of everything we do as Greens. As well as empowering and enabling citizens, we believe we need to help people identify programmes with recognisable faces. It is a process which would also guarantee greater accountability.”

Bruxelles, 22 February 2018