How Should the European Commission President Be Appointed?

livingstone

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Unless you think either (a) there should be no European Union or (b) there should be no European Commission, then it seems clear there needs to be an officeholder who heads up the executive of the EU. So how should he (or she) be chosen?

The Spitzenkandidaten process used in 2014 is coming under some pressure - particularly from France as Macron realises that it's a sure way to end up with a (probably) EPP President after 2019.

It seems reasonable to me that the two chambers of the 'legislature' of the EU (the Council and the Parliament) should both be involved in the process, but how?

The Pre-2014 Option
The Council chooses a President, and Parliament approves them. The President probably depends on the political leanings of the EU's (soon to be) 27 Member States.

Currently (excluding UK) that is 9 EPP, 8 ALDE, 5 Socialists, 1 ECR, 1 far left, and 3 non-aligned. Of course Governments may not act entirely in line with European grouping (especially where the Head of Government is from only one party in a coalition).

Spitzenkandidaten
As with the pre-2014 approach, but the Council and the Parliament agree in advance that they will nominate the pre-chosen candidate of the party that wins the most seats in the European Parliament elections. That is almost certain to be the EPP - no other party has won a plurality of the seats since 1994.

In a way, this looks somewhat like our own Parliamentary system - the public votes for MEPs (like they vote for TDs), knowing who will be the Commission President (or Taoiseach) in the event that the party they vote for wins the election.

The problem is that it is based on a plurality of seats, rather than a majority. So regardless of the make up of the national Governments, you can end up with an EC President because his party holds 30% of the seats in the EP. What's more, the disparate means of electing MEPs means it's possible (as in 2014) that a party can win nearly 2 million votes more, and yet have thirty fewer seats.

Direct Nomination by the European Parliament
Instead of simply approving the nomination of the Council, the Parliament would be tasked with choosing the EC President, and it would be for the Council to approve or not. This would require a President who can build a coalition across parties (unless their party wins 50% plus of votes).

Direct Election by the Public
There would be various ways this could work - the risk of domination by larger countries is certainly there. But plenty of federal or quasi-federal entities manage direct election. It would certainly be the most direct means by which the EC could claim a mandate.
 


Dame_Enda

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If he had to be a member of the European Parliament he would be more legitimate with less risk of domination by the Big States. That may require a treaty change. On the other hand it comes with a risk of favouring his constituency just as sometimes happens in Ireland.
 

firefly123

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Wrestling and trial by fire
 

gerhard dengler

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Good op.

I think every political office and every appointtee, local/national/European, should be determined by the electorate voting.
 

firefly123

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Good op.

I think every political office and every appointtee, local/national/European, should be determined by the electorate voting.
But then the most populous nation would always win
 

Accidental sock

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A dance-off.
 

Bill

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Death Race.
 

Deadlock

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Unless you think either (a) there should be no European Union or (b) there should be no European Commission, then it seems clear there needs to be an officeholder who heads up the executive of the EU. So how should he (or she) be chosen?

The Spitzenkandidaten process used in 2014 is coming under some pressure - particularly from France as Macron realises that it's a sure way to end up with a (probably) EPP President after 2019.

It seems reasonable to me that the two chambers of the 'legislature' of the EU (the Council and the Parliament) should both be involved in the process, but how?

The Pre-2014 Option
The Council chooses a President, and Parliament approves them. The President probably depends on the political leanings of the EU's (soon to be) 27 Member States.

Currently (excluding UK) that is 9 EPP, 8 ALDE, 5 Socialists, 1 ECR, 1 far left, and 3 non-aligned. Of course Governments may not act entirely in line with European grouping (especially where the Head of Government is from only one party in a coalition).

Spitzenkandidaten
As with the pre-2014 approach, but the Council and the Parliament agree in advance that they will nominate the pre-chosen candidate of the party that wins the most seats in the European Parliament elections. That is almost certain to be the EPP - no other party has won a plurality of the seats since 1994.

In a way, this looks somewhat like our own Parliamentary system - the public votes for MEPs (like they vote for TDs), knowing who will be the Commission President (or Taoiseach) in the event that the party they vote for wins the election.

The problem is that it is based on a plurality of seats, rather than a majority. So regardless of the make up of the national Governments, you can end up with an EC President because his party holds 30% of the seats in the EP. What's more, the disparate means of electing MEPs means it's possible (as in 2014) that a party can win nearly 2 million votes more, and yet have thirty fewer seats.

Direct Nomination by the European Parliament
Instead of simply approving the nomination of the Council, the Parliament would be tasked with choosing the EC President, and it would be for the Council to approve or not. This would require a President who can build a coalition across parties (unless their party wins 50% plus of votes).

Direct Election by the Public
There would be various ways this could work - the risk of domination by larger countries is certainly there. But plenty of federal or quasi-federal entities manage direct election. It would certainly be the most direct means by which the EC could claim a mandate.
Excellent OP - thanks.

Not strictly in line with OPs thinking - I'd firstly urge the unification of the position of President of the European Commission and that of the President of the European Council, to create a position - let's call it the President of the European Union.

That position should be democratically elected by at least double majority - with candidates winning an electoral majority, and the majority of the member states. Alternately Presidents are elected by roughly equally sized transnational constituencies deliberately devised to cross international frontiers, requiring a majority of such constituencies, or indeed a specially convened body like an electoral college.
 
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blinding

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Excellent OP - thanks.

Not strictly in line with OPs thinking - I'd firstly urge the nification of the position of President of the European Commission and that of the President of the European Council, to create a position - let's call it the President of the European Union.

That position should be democratically elected by at least double majority - with candidates winning an electoral majority in the majority of the member states. Alternately Presidents are elected by roughly equally sized transnational constituencies deliberately devised to cross international frontiers, requiring a majority of such constituencies, or indeed a specially convened body like an electoral college.
Clear as Mud.....and its even muddier than that as it is .
 

stopdoingstuff

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If you want to build an actual common European identity or even just a sense of being part of a shared polity, I would suggest that a direct election is the only way to go. The logistics are obviously the key and the major downside is the mitigation of the power of larger countries. Perhaps the USA knows the way i.e. a series of state elections resulting in weighted electoral votes.

The big thing for me would be how the campaigns would play out nationally and how they could be organized.

Here is the way I think it should happen:

The national parties form coalitions with their various EU counterparts to find a candidate, but these coalitions may also include various civil society groups. In essence people with common interests put up a sign saying "If you have similar views to us, then sign up for the coalition and we will select a candidate".

In addition anyone with X million signatures should be a candidate.

Then it is left to the local coalition members to run the local campaigns, with the candidate out on the stump as per the US or a normal general election.

That's just a sketch, as I am about to head back to work.
 

Clanrickard

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Good op.

I think every political office and every appointtee, local/national/European, should be determined by the electorate voting.
*cough* Trump or *even coughier* Sheriff Arpaio
 

Analyzer

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Get rid of the position.

Get rid of the entire thing.
 

livingstone

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Good op.

I think every political office and every appointtee, local/national/European, should be determined by the electorate voting.
But what does 'by the electorate voting mean'.

Was Enda Kenny determined to be Taoiseach by 'the electorate voting' because they voted for FG candidates? Or do you just mean by direct vote for the office in question?
 

livingstone

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Excellent OP - thanks.

Not strictly in line with OPs thinking - I'd firstly urge the unification of the position of President of the European Commission and that of the President of the European Council, to create a position - let's call it the President of the European Union.

That position should be democratically elected by at least double majority - with candidates winning an electoral majority, and the majority of the member states. Alternately Presidents are elected by roughly equally sized transnational constituencies deliberately devised to cross international frontiers, requiring a majority of such constituencies, or indeed a specially convened body like an electoral college.
Not sure how merging the two positions would work - unless you think the Council and Commission should merge - but that doesn't seem particularly doable given the role of the Council is essentially legislative while that of the Commission is essentially executive. That is somewhat true of Parliamentary systems where the Prime Minister tends to also be in control of Parliament - but the difference is that it's possible to have a model whereby the members of the executive can also be members of the legislature - but you couldn't have members of the Council also acting as Commissioners (since they are already heads of Government of their own states).
 

gerhard dengler

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But what does 'by the electorate voting mean'.

Was Enda Kenny determined to be Taoiseach by 'the electorate voting' because they voted for FG candidates? Or do you just mean by direct vote for the office in question?
A fair question.

No Taoiseach has been appointed by the vote of the people. No minister has been appointed by the vote of the people.

My own view is that those holding public office should be elected to that office ie. the person appointed Taoiseach should be directly elected by the electorate to that office and not elected only by members of the Oireachtas or by being leader of the political party which happens to win the most votes.
 

Deadlock

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Not sure how merging the two positions would work - unless you think the Council and Commission should merge - but that doesn't seem particularly doable given the role of the Council is essentially legislative while that of the Commission is essentially executive. That is somewhat true of Parliamentary systems where the Prime Minister tends to also be in control of Parliament - but the difference is that it's possible to have a model whereby the members of the executive can also be members of the legislature - but you couldn't have members of the Council also acting as Commissioners (since they are already heads of Government of their own states).
No I don't think that the Council and the Commission should merge - but since the President of the Commission already sits on the European Council, my point is that the President of the Commission could also serve as President of the European Council. The treaties stipulate only that the European Council President cannot hold national office at appointment, but there is no such impediment to holders of European office.
 


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