The top-down election

Is this what the new EU democracy looks like? Not the European Parliament, but the governments are sounding out who is to become the next head of the Commission. Meanwhile, MEPs are discussing a coalition agreement – but for which coalition?

It’s an illustrious round that met for dinner in Brussels on Friday, and it has a delicate mission: six heads of government from three party families are to sound out who could take the top posts in the EU. Two weeks after the European elections they will also talk about the future head of the Commission.

But the newly elected MEPs will be as little involved in the exploratory talks as the election winners from the Greens. Conservatives (among others with Croatia’s head of government Andrej Plenkovič), Social Democrats (with Spain’s Pedro Sanchez) and Liberals (with the Dutchman Mark Rutte) will speak.

This is how the EU summit decided it ten days ago – and thus tore the process itself. Because Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Head of State Emmanuel Macron did not want to argue on the open stage about Jean-Claude Juncker’s successor, the six “coordinators” were appointed – a premiere.

The newly elected European Parliament has little to oppose this. Here, too, the (same) parties are scrambling for power. Because the top candidates stand in each other’s way, the parliament has set up a working group to work out a coalition programme. Here the Greens are allowed to participate, but the parties critical of the EU are not.

For the EU citizens, who took part in the elections in greater numbers than ever before, all this will be difficult to understand. After all, the European Parliament had promised that the citizens could elect the next President of the EU Commission themselves – and set the course. Instead, the back rooms of Brussels will rule for the time being.

Behind closed doors

Even EU insiders find it difficult to predict what the outcome of the coalition negotiations and the post haggling will be. The six heads of government meet behind closed doors, the press is not invited. Nobody in the European Parliament knows about it either. “Everything is a matter for the boss”, say otherwise well-informed press spokesmen.

Only one person dares to go ahead: outgoing German EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger (CDU). He sees a good chance that a German will win. The probability that Manfred Weber (CSU) will be the next head of the Commission or that the President of the Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, will run the ECB is 60 percent, Oettinger said.

Well, then everything is fine…

Translated with