The EU elections will be followed by important decisions, which will significantly shape the future orientation of the European Union. The election results will shift the balance of power in Parliament and have a determining influence on allocating the top jobs in the EU.
Following the European Parliament election the next step is to negotiate the vacancies at the top of the EU. These are in particular the presidencies of the Commission, the European Council and of Parliament. What is remarkable, however, is that during the election campaign many referred to the importance of achieving a gender balance; but now, out of eleven negotiators between European Parliament and Council only one woman - Ska Keller of the Green faction - joins ten men at the negotiating table. At least the current President des European Council, Donald Tusk, has come out in favour of awarding two of the newly to be filled top jobs to women. However, apart from awarding the top jobs in Brussels, Parliament is also taking important strategic measures. We have compiled a short overview of the coming events.
Preparations for the coming years
Already two days after the elections on 28th May 2019, the European Council held a special summit in respect of filling the most important top jobs in Brussels. Another summit of the EU heads of state and government will take place on 20th and 21st June 2019, where the nominations are expected. With regard to appointing the President of the Commission, both Council and European Parliament have to agree. The most likely candidates are currently the top candidates of the three largest factions in the new Parliament: Manfred Weber (EVP), Frans Timmermans (S&D) and Margrethe Vestager (ALDE). Current negotiations are taking place within the European Council as well as between European Council and Parliament.
The elections in May have shifted the balances of power between the parties in the EU. Even though the Faction of the European Peoples’ Party (EPP) is still the party with the most votes, it had to suffer significant losses. Although the losses of the faction of the Social Democrats (S&D) were slightly smaller, with Great Britain leaving the EU, the faction will be further reduced. The faction of the Liberals (ALDE) grows in particular due to the alliance with Emmanuel Macron’s movement “La République En Marche”, which took part in the elections for the first time. Based on the new majority situation, at least one other faction will have to join EPP and S&D to achieve a majority in Parliament, which will strengthen the bargaining power of other parties, such as the Liberals and the Greens. The next weeks will show, who will find the approval of the negotiating partners to be the candidates for the key positions.
Apart from the negotiations in respect of top jobs, Parliament will also set the course for future work. Even though many MEPs have already decided as to which faction they will join, things are not all that clear in case of some new MEPs. Apart from that, it is still open whether new alliances or factions will be formed, above all with regard to the populist and eurosceptic parties. To establish a faction requires at least 25 MEPs, who have to come from one quarter of all Member States at least. On 24th June, the political groups will officially announce their composition.
A week later, on 2nd July, the new EU Parliament will for the first time assemble for an inaugural plenary session, where MEPs will elect the President and the 14 Vice Presidents of Parliaments; apart from that, the number and composition of the standing committees will be determined. Parliament would have the first opportunity in a second plenary session in July to elect the President of the Commission. Probably in September and October, all other candidates for the Commission (one candidate per Member State) will have to attend the hearings in Parliament and Parliament has to confirm them with a qualified majority. Until then, the current Commission will continue its work.