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2014: A year of change for the European Union

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The European Parliament elections will take place in May 2014 and will be followed by the appointment of a new European Commission, setting the tone and direction of EU policy-making for the next five years. Our Brussels office provides insight into the procedural aspects of the European Parliament elections and how the next Commission will be appointed.

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2014: A year of change for the European Union

  1. 1. MEPs per Political Group 274 194 85 58 57 35 31 32 EPP S&D ALDE Greens/EFA ECR GUE/NGL EFD NI 766 Source: European Parliament Group Full name Political orientation Seats* EPP European People’s Party Christian Democrat Centre-right 274 S&D ProgressiveAlliance of Socialists and Democrats Social Democrat Centre-left 194 ALDE Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Liberal Centre 85 Greens/EFA Greens/European Free Alliance Green 58 ECR European Conservative and Reformists Conservative 57 GUE/NGL European United Left – Nordic Green Left Left wing 35 EFD European Freedom and Democracy EU-sceptic Right wing 31 NI Non-Aligned 32 * 6 March 2014 2014 A year of change for the EU Introduction • The European Parliament elections will take place in May 2014 and will be followed by the appointment of a new European Commission, setting the tone and direction of EU policy-making for the next five years. • The institutions will continue to drive policy and regulation at regional level for financial services, environment, energy, infrastructures, data protection, competition policy, agriculture, foreign policy and trade. As they establish the regulatory framework for the whole European region,their influence goes beyond European borders and will impact all EU trade and political partners. • This brochure explains the procedural aspects of the European Parliament elections and how the next Commission is appointed, including a timeline with key events until the end of the year. • Likely candidates for other top level European positions such as the President of the European Council are briefly presented. A new political climate? • The key questions determining the cooperation and political dynamic between the European institutions overthenextyearsincludecontinuedfiscalconsolidation policies; international relations and international trade; and whether more European integration or re- nationalisation is the way to move forward. • In addition, the intensity of the debate will be fuelled by the large number of new Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the far left and far right that will be focused on overhauling the status quo at all costs. • Ultimately, the question of who sits behind the steering wheelwillbedeterminedbythenatureoftherelationship the next Commission President has with the new Parliament and the 28 Member States.Traditionally,the Commission has not succeeded in wrestling the political initiativefromthenationalgovernments.Acloserpolitical alignment between the Parliament and the Commission wouldbenecessarytoreversethislong-termtrend,which is unlikely given that neither the Christian Democrats nor the Social Democrats will emerge as clear winners of the elections. Composition of the current European Parliament The parliamentary groups explained
  2. 2. NI NI/Far right group (++) GUE/NGL (+) S&D (+) ECR (-) Greens/EFA (-) ALDE (-) EPP (--) + - EFD Number of MEPs per Member State 96 74 73 73 54 51 32 26 21 21 21 21 21 20 18 17 13 13 13 11 11 11 8 8 6 6 6 6 Germany France Italy United Kingdom Spain Poland Romania Netherlands Belgium Czech Republic Greece Hungary Portugal Sweden Austria Bulgaria Denmark Slovakia Finland Ireland Croatia Lithuania Latvia Slovenia Estonia Cyprus Luxembourg Malta European Parliament elections Election Process • 751 MEPs* to be elected in 28 Member States from 22-25 May • NumberofseatsallocatedtoMemberStatesrangefrom96(Germany) to 6 (Estonia, Malta, Luxembourg, and Cyprus) • Most Member States, including the UK, apply proportional representation systems,and some of them have set a 4-5% threshold for election • Several Member States also divide their electorate into regional constituencies Projections • No clear winner will emerge • The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre- left Social Democrats (S&D) in a neck and neck race to become the biggest political group • Losses for liberals (ALDE) and Greens (Greens/EFA), gains for European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) • A new political group might emerge on the far right, uniting nationalist parties like the French Front National, the Dutch Party of Freedom, and the Austrian Freedom Party • Closer cooperation between EPP and S&D in informal “grand coalition” could lead to reduced “kingmaker” role forALDE • There is a chance that we will see up to 40% turnover of MEPs.This will have an impact on engaging with the Parliament as it always takes time for newcomers to establish themselves European Commissioners standing for elections • For the moment, four Commissioners have officially announced that they will stand for elections: Olli Rehn (Finland), Karel de Gucht (Belgium), Maroš Šefčovič (Slovakia), and Neven Mimica (Croatia) • Two more are rumoured to consider joining the race:Viviane Reding (Luxembourg) and Janusz Lewandowski (Poland) • They will have to take a leave of absence from 17 April until 22-25 May • Their portfolios will be taken over temporarily by one of their remaining colleagues • If elected,a Commissioner would have to stand down from the Commission in order to take his/her seat in the Parliament The next European Parliament Total 751* *The number of MEPs will be reduced from the current 766 to 751 Potential new political group on the far right • Far right parties from several Member States are likely to form a post-election alliance to leverage their increased size. The group could include up to 45 MEPs • The initiative is driven primarily by Marine Le Pen (Front National, France), Geert Wilders (Partij voor de Vrijheid, The Netherlands) and Hans-Christian Strache (Freiheitliche Partei Österreich,Austria) • Other far right parties expected to join such an alliance include the Belgian Vlaams Belang, Italian Lega Nord and Swedish Sverigedemokraterna • 25 MEPs from at least 7 Member States are necessary to form a political group in the European Parliament
  3. 3. Formation of a new Commission • Member States propose one Commissioner each • The Commission President assigns policy portfolios to the nominees (although this is negotiated with Member States) • After approval of the new College by the Member States, the appropriate Parliament Committees hold hearings with the future Commissioners • The Parliament has to give its consent to the entire Commission – it cannot“cherry pick”individual Commissioners.However,in the past MEPs have used this power to demand the replacement of individual candidates found lacking in expertise or ethics by threatening to reject the whole Commission if individuals are not replaced • OncetheEuropeanParliamenthasapprovedthenewCommission, the European Council officially appoints it • CurrentCommission’stermendson31October2014(extendable) Appointment of the Commission President • Nominated by the European Council, which brings together the Heads of State or Government of the EU’s 28 Member States • Needs the support of at least 376 MEPs to have the European Parliament’s confirmation • LisbonTreaty provisions say that the European Council has to “take intoaccount”theresultsoftheelectionswhennominatingacandidate to the European Parliament • The Parliament and Europe-wide political parties interpreted this as a call to personalize the election process and nominated their own main candidates for the Commission Presidency • Member States intend to retain control of the nomination process • A political deadlock between Parliament and Member States over who will become the next Commission President might lead to an extended term of the current Commission Potential compromise candidates • Viable compromise candidates might emerge at a later stage in the negotiation process between Parliament and Member States The next European Commission Main candidates for Commission President • A televised debate between the nominated main candidates is foreseen for 15 May, organised by the European Broadcasting Union Christine Lagarde France, EPP IMF Managing Director Jyrki Katainen Finland, EPP Prime Minister Enda Kenny Ireland, EPP Prime Minister HelleThorning- Schmidt Denmark, S&D Prime Minister Enrico Letta Italy, S&D Former Prime Minister Pascal Lamy France, S&D FormerWTO Director-General Martin Schulz Germany, S&D President of the European Parliament GuyVerhofstadt Belgium,ALDE President ALDE Group Jean-Claude Juncker Luxembourg, EPP Former Prime Minister Ska Keller Germany, Greens/EFA MEP José Bové France, Greens/EFA MEP AlexisTsipras Greece, GUE/NGL Greek MP 1 2
  4. 4. High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security President of the European Council (Possible) Permanent President of the Eurogroup Contact Brunswick Brussels Currently Catherine Ashton UK, S&D HermanVan Rompuy Belgium, EPP Frans Timmermans The Netherlands, S&D Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski Poland, EPP Foreign Minister Carl Bildt Sweden,ALDE Foreign Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen Denmark,ALDE NATO Secretary General Jean-Claude Juncker Belgium, EPP Former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt Sweden, EPP Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen Denmark,ALDE NATO Secretary General Dalia Grybauskaitė Lithuania, EPP President Potential Candidates Candidates for other high level positions to be filled in 2014 General notes • Member States try to achieve a balanced representation between political orientation,gender,and geographical provenance when filling such positions • It is considered an unwritten rule that at least some high level positions will go to a woman and to politicians from the newer Member States in Central and Eastern Europe Address 27Avenue DesArts 1040 Brussels Belgium Tel.+32 2 235 6510 Fax+32 2 235 6522 Email brusselsoffice@brunswickgroup.com Jeroen Dijsselbloem The Netherlands, S&D Pierre Moscovici France, S&D Minister of Finance President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz Germany, S&D Viviane Reding Luxembourg, EPP European Commissioner Olli Rehn Finland,ALDE European Commissioner NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Denmark,ALDE Liam Fox UK, ECR Former Secretary of State for Defence Thomas de Maizière Germany, EPP Federal Minister of the Interior Pieter de Crem Belgium, EPP Minister of Defence Franco Frattini Italy, EPP Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Timeline until the end of 2014 April May June July August September October November December 14-17/4 Last Plenary 15/5 Televised debate of main candidates 14-17/7 EP vote on Commission President (expected) 30/11 End of Van Rompuy’s term as European Council President 26-27/6 European Council Summit – Nomination of new Commission President 27/5 EP Post-Electoral Meeting July-August Nomination of new College of Commissioners September-October EP hearings with proposed Commissioners 31/10 End of term for Barroso Commission (extendable) European Parliament European Council European Commission 22-25/5 European Elections 27/5 European Council Post-Electoral Meeting