The European Parliament will be ready to reject any candidate in the investiture procedure of the President of the Commission who was not appointed as a ‘Spitzenkandidat’ of a European political party in the run-up to the European elections. With this warning, we say to all those who, for various reasons, might be tempted to question the way in which the President of the European Commission is elected, that we will fight! Should we have a battle with our own Heads of Government, we will not allow European citizens to be deprived of their right to elect the future President of the European Commission.
Spitzenkandidat? If the term itself sounds rather barbaric - especially in English - it nevertheless designates a democratic revolution, discreet but very real, launched on the initiative of the European political parties and MEPs, and this - irrespective of some - long before the existence of France’s République en Marche.
What is the main difference between José Manuel Barroso and Jean-Claude Juncker? They may both be from the political family of the European People's Party, but there is a fundamental difference between them: the first was appointed President of the European Commission behind closed doors. The second is the result of universal suffrage, controlled by MEPs directly elected by citizens. In 2014, when they went to the polls to elect their representatives to the European Parliament, voters also voted for the first time indirectly for one of the presidential candidates of the European Commission.
Jean-Claude Juncker was elected President of the European Commission because our political family of the European People's Party came first in the European Elections.
Because it was the first time, not all national media understood the extent of change and the responsibility they had to inform citizens. At the end of the elections, some Heads of State and Government wanted to question the choice of the candidate. We stood firm. But it was just the beginning, the first European campaign. It will not be the last.
In all elections, it is normal for a political party to appear before voters with a programme and a candidate. Why should we give up this fundamental principle at European level? How do you explain to voters that we are going to bring Europe closer to its citizens if it is to go back to the ‘old school’ practices of designations and positions?
We want ‘a political party, a programme, a candidate’ in Europe too. The European People's Party will nominate its candidate in November 2018 who will then lead a campaign for the 2019 European Elections. We want this campaign to be truly European, not only in form but also in substance. Let’s discuss the issues that concern European citizens in all our countries, let’s present our priorities for the future of our continent to the emerging European public opinion! Let's talk about candidates and content, not about procedures! The Spitzenkandidaten principle will allow this.
If the governments of the Member States try to go back on this principle, they will find MEPs in their way. And they will have to explain to the voters why, despite their great speeches on bringing Europe closer to its citizens and the need for democratic change in Europe, they are in fact not ready to give up opacity and secrecy.