Young European Federalists demand European Parliament to back “democratic renewal”

, by TNF Editorial Board

Young European Federalists demand European Parliament to back “democratic renewal”
Federalists demonstrating in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 2 July. Photo: Abdesslam Mirdass for European Federalists / Facebook

Earlier this week, the European Council made its nominations for the ‘EU top jobs’, including the next Commission President. In a press release, the Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe) slam the lack of transparency in the decision. As a remedy, the organisation calls for the European Parliament to lead a “democratic renewal” of the EU.

The federalists were angered by the national leaders’ decision to sideline European parties’ lead candidates from the nomination for Jean-Claude Juncker’s successor as the next Commission President. The JEF-Europe President Christopher Glück says that the leaders “managed to wash away every bit of enthusiasm for Europe” created by the May elections, marked by a historic rise in turnout.

“Not even the fiercest defender of the European Union can justify a decision-making process defined by opaqueness, sleep deprivation and the absence of any clear criteria for candidates - apart, of course, from their need to satisfy petty national horse-trading”, he added.

“Radical democratic reform”

As a way forward, JEF demands a rethink of the lead candidate (Spitzenkandidaten) system for electing the Commission President. The main problem is that the current system relies on the good-will of national leaders, who Christopher Glück says “cannot be trusted to put the European interest before their short-term national interests”.

JEF presents two possible solutions: either a direct election of the President, or giving the European Parliament the full power to decide on the Commission President. In either case, JEF calls for the Parliament to secure a “binding agreement on key reforms” before supporting Ursula von der Leyen, or any other nominee for Commission President. If no binding deal is made, the JEF press release demands for the national leaders’ proposal to be rejected.

Crucial vote scheduled for 16 July

The European Parliament is scheduled to vote on Ursula von der Leyen’s nomination on Tuesday 16 July. To win the Commission presidency, she needs to secure support from a majority of MEPs. If von der Leyen fails, national leaders must convene for a new summit to nominate a new candidate for Commission President.

Iratxe García who leads the centre-left S&D group in the European Parliament, and Bas Eickhout who was one of the European Greens’ lead candidates in the May election, are among MEPs who have publicly opposed the German defence minister’s nomination. Martin Schirdewan who is the acting President of the left-wing GUE/NGL group said that making von der Leyen the next Commission President would be “a slap in the voters’ face”.

The leader of the centre-right EPP group Manfred Weber has expressed his support for von der Leyen’s candidacy.

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