Parliamentary Democracy?

The race to become the next President of the European Commission got interesting yesterday.

Well, maybe not that interesting, but the announcement by European Parliament President Pat Cox that he would not be seeking re-election as an Irish MEP in June is widely agreed to be a signal that he’s interested in the other Presidency.

As this Independent article discusses, Cox doesn’t appear to be any government’s first choice for the job, though that could be a benefit rather than a hindrance as first choices often fall at the first hurdle in the horse-trading that determines who’ll get the Presidency.

(An interesting sidebar to the discussion is that the UK may block Jacques Chirac’s preferred choice – Belgian PM Verhofstadt – allowing the Daily Express to recycle it’s ‘Britain Blocks The Belgian’ headline from when John Major vetoed Jean-Luc Dehaene in 1994)

But, the most interesting part of these negotiations is that the results of next month’s European Parliament elections could have a decisive effect on who’s up for the job and who’s not. If the EPP and ELDR have a combined majority in the Parliament they may be able to insist on the appointment of Cox as Commission President which, I think, may be one of the more interesting developments in EU politics of recent times, in that it’ll mean the Commission has a President who owes his job as much to the Parliament (of which he is a 15-year veteran) as he does the member governments.

Sit back and watch – this could get interesting.

6 thoughts on “Parliamentary Democracy?

  1. He is probably not going to make it, but you might want to change “Berhofstadt” in “Verhofstadt” anyway…

  2. The EP will not be able to insist on anything. In previous EP votes on the President of the Commission (Santer is a good example) the parties have voted according to the views of the national party leaders who make up the Council as heads of government.

    And if EPP/ EDLR were to insist on someone, surely the EPP would prefer an EPP candidate, as the much larger party.

    I also remember hearing that Cox not standing for reelection has at least as much to do with not being likely to be reelected, due to changes in number of MEPs in Ireland.

  3. Please, can we not have either a nonentity like Juncker, a parrot like Verhofstadt, or a zealot like Schl?ssel?

  4. Verhofstadt will be politically dead after the June 13 regional elections in Belgium, so don’t worry…

  5. Will
    The noises coming out of the EP do suggest very strongly that they will not act in a way that will please there so-called masters back at home. This debate has been the most ferocious game in town for the past 5 months. Of course it is always good to have a debate about something that does not involve legislation, that would be too much to ask, but I do believe that the strongest party in the EP, probably Peottering’s EPP will have the whip hand. (Whether they trust the Liberal group again after they were stiched up 2 1/2 years ago when Cox became President I am not so sure).

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