EPP - the leading political family in Europe
The European Christian Democrats came together in 1976 to establish the first European transnational party - the European People’s Party (EPP). Over the years, the Party has evolved to incorporate Europe's centre and centre-right in the broader sense. The EPP currently unites a total of 75 full member, associate member and observer member parties from 40 European countries, forming the largest political family in Europe.
The EPP political family has been the driving force of European integration. In the aftermath of the Second World War, a handful of political leaders like Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, Konrad Adenauer, the German Chancellor, and Alcide de Gasperi, the Italian Prime Minister, all of them belonging to the EPP family, were among the Founding Fathers that took the first crucial step in creating a united Europe as a means to prevent future wars. The EPP family once again took centre-stage as a spearhead for European integration after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the imminent demise of totalitarian communism across Central and Eastern Europe. Inspired by the idea of reunification, the EPP stood behind and supported the emergence of pluralist democracies in the formerly communist countries and strongly advocated that the continent torn in half must again be united.
Driven by the idea of a united Europe based on the values of human dignity, freedom, human rights, rule of law, solidarity and subsidiarity, European parties came together under the umbrella of the EPP. Members of those parties elected to the European Parliament and other like-minded MEPs came together to form the EPP Group, a political fraction in the European Parliament.
The core activity of the European People's Party is to formulate long-term political platforms, to serve as a focal point of contact for politicians of Europe's centre-right and to act as a political anchor for parties in non-EU European countries.
The EPP holds regular congresses where representatives of member parties, national governments and organisations within the EPP family, such as the EPP Group, come together to discuss the political programme and determine the political direction of the EPP. Every three years, the Congress elects the EPP Presidency.
Heads of State and Government belonging to the EPP meet before every European Council to discuss the European Council agenda and coordinate political positions. These EPP Summits, as they are called, also involve EPP leaders coming from non-EU countries where they can actively discuss current affairs with other European counterparts.
Moreover, Ministers affiliated to the EPP from policy fields such as Foreign Affairs, Defence, Economy and Finance, Justice and Home Affairs, Employment, Agriculture, Environment, Industry, Transport, and Energy, meet ahead of the Council of Ministers' meetings to discuss and coordinate their work. EPP Group Members regularly participate in EPP Ministerial meetings.
Finally, the European People's Party also organises regular meetings of the Political Assembly where all EPP parties, groups and associate organisations are represented. The Assembly defines the political positions of the Party between each congress.
Unlike the Party, the EPP Group's core activity is legislative work within the European Parliament. Legislative coordination within the Group, although independent of a party whip, stays within the broad guidelines established by the political programme adopted at EPP Congresses.
The EPP Group in the European Parliament plays an active role in all EPP activities and is represented in its main bodies: the Congress, the Political Assembly and the Presidency.
EPP in the Commission
The current European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is affiliated to the EPP. Put forward by the EPP as their top candidate for Commission President in the 2014 European elections, he was confirmed in the post by both the European Parliament and Council following the victory of EPP parties.
This process of nominating a candidate for Commission President was started by the EPP in the 2009 elections. The EPP used a provision contained in the Lisbon Treaty before the Treaty had come into force, and was the only political family at the time to present a common candidate for the post of Commission President. The process was later adopted by all parties for the 2014 elections.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, formally nominates the candidate for Commission President, taking the results of the European elections into account.
The Juncker Commission has a total of 14 Commissioners that are affiliated to the EPP, meaning they were proposed for the Commission post by EPP-led governments. The European People's Party organises ad hoc meetings with these EPP Commissioners.
EPP in the European Council
Prior to every meeting of the European Council (the European Summit attended by the Heads of the 28 EU Member States), the European People's Party traditionally holds the EPP Summit of Heads of State and Government, Party Leaders and EU Institution Presidents. The EPP Summit prepares the Council agenda and formulates EPP positions which influence the final decisions of the European Council.
EPP Groups in the Committee of the Regions, Economic and Social Committee, Council of Europe, OSCE
The European People's Party also has leading political groups in other European forums, namely in the Committee of the Regions, in the Economic and Social Committee and in the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).