European People’s Party elects Juncker as its candidate European Commission President

Written by on March 7, 2014 in Europe - No comments

The EU-wide centre-right European People’s Party elected Jean-Claude Juncker, formerly prime minister of Luxembourg and former Eurogroup president, as its candidate to become European Commission President in October 2014.

In a vote on March 7 at the EPP congress in Dublin in preparation for the May 2014 European Parliament elections, Juncker defeated his sole rival, France’s European Commissioner Michel Barnier. The vote was reported as 382 to 245. A total of 812 delegates were eligible to vote.

A third candidate, Latvia’s Valdis Dombrovskis, withdrew on March 5, endorsing Juncker, who in January also was given the influential support of German chancellor Angela Merkel.

The EPP is the largest grouping in the current European Parliament. It has 73 member parties from 39 countries. Its largest member party in Bulgaria is Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB, which is at once the largest single party in the 42nd National Assembly but also the opposition.

Yulia Tymoshenko and Boiko Borissov at the EPP congress in Dublin on March 6. Photo: epp.eu via flickr.com

Yulia Tymoshenko and Boiko Borissov at the EPP congress in Dublin on March 6. Photo: epp.eu via flickr.com

EPP people currently holding major public offices include the presidents of the European Commission and of the European Council, 12 EU and six non-EU heads of state and government and 13 members of the European Commission.

Explaining his candidacy to reporters ahead of the March 7 vote, Juncker said, “I want this job because I was becoming increasingly angry that the European Union does appear as being divided in two parts, the so-called virtuous countries and the so-called weaker countries”.

Juncker (59) was prime minister of Luxembourg from January 1995 to December 2013. His coalition government had fallen in July 2013 because of a controversy involving Luxembourg’s intelligence agency. At the time of his departure as prime minister, he had been the EU’s longest-serving head of government.

Juncker headed the Eurogroup from 2005 to 2013.

The election of Juncker means that the candidates for European Commission President from the EU’s largest parliamentary groupings are now known.

At the end of February, the Party of European Socialists confirmed current Martin Schulz, current European Parliament President, as its EC President candidate. At the beginning of February, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) elected Guy Verhofstadt as their candidate.

The Lisbon Treaty provides for the parliamentary grouping that wins the most seats in the European Parliament to name the candidate European Commission President.

European Parliament elections are being held from May 22 to 25 2014. The new European Commission is to take office in October.

(Photo: epp.eu via flickr.com)

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