Posts in "Finland" Category

Herman’s checklist: finding a balance for the EU’s top jobs

9157497455_724ede816a_h - UPDATEDA big week, and a careful balancing act

This time next week, Angela Merkel will be celebrating her sixtieth birthday – and short of anything better to cheer, the rest of the European Council will probably be celebrating the end of the gruelling quinquennial EU top jobs race.

Tuesday (15 July) sees the election of the new President of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker does not quite have his feet under the desk yet, but the ‘grand coalition’ that held for Martin Schulz’s election as President of the European Parliament is expected to hold and see Juncker made President-elect.

And then, on Wednesday, the rest of the pieces of the top jobs jigsaw are expected to be put into place.

The European Council, denied a backroom deal over the Commission presidency, can (more or less) get back to old ways with its selection of a new President of the European Council and a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (although the choice for the latter position is one for leaders to take with the President-elect). A new permanent president for the Eurogroup (finance ministers of eurozone countries) is also expected to be named.

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Building a new Commission – the runners and riders for the next College

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]Post updated later on Wednesday 11 June to account for news that Dacian Cioloș (Agriculture and Rural Development; Romania) may be re-nominated to the Commission.[/infopane]

With the choice of a President of the European Commission still up in the air, we are a long way off knowing the full team that will occupy the upper floors of the Berlaymont for the next five years.

Nevertheless, national governments are already putting forward their proposed nominees to sit in the new College. Here’s our look at the comings and goings in the Commission in 2014, and the potential candidates to take a seat in the new Commission.

If you have comments or suggestions, please include them in the comments box.

See our country-by-country guide to the potential nominees

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Social media and the elections – did it have an impact?

Election night turnoutBefore the European Parliament elections social media was trumpeted as a key method to increase turnout, attract support and build interest (especially among the European political parties). Two weeks on from the elections, we can ask the question – did it have an impact?

Social media offers politicians and voters an unparalleled level of direct access to each other. The former use it in the hope of mobilising support – although whether it attracts new support is a moot point (many people follow people with whose views they already identify). Fortunately, social media also produces large amounts of data that allow us to study its impact in greater detail.

We’ll focus on turnout. Decades of declining voter turnout was brought to an end (albeit marginally). But did social media have an impact?

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Who’s going where? Tracking the musical chairs in the European Parliament

[infopane color=”5″ icon=”0049.png”]Please note that since the constitutive session of the European Parliament on 1 July 2014, this page is no longer being updated.[/infopane]
EPP S&D ALDE G/EFA ECR EFDD GUE/NGL NI
221 191 67 50 70 48 52 52
27 countries 28 countries 21 countries 17 countries 15 countries 7 countries 14 countries 10 countries
The 2014 European elections brought 34 new parties or independent candidates to the European Parliament.

Now, many of those new MEPs are seeking to join political groups to strengthen their voice in the Parliament, while a battle goes on between the groups to attract new members that help ensure their survival and maximise their influence, speaking time and funding.

One new group – the European Alliance for Freedom – has also been mooted as a way to bring together anti-EU parties on the radical right. To form this and other groups, a minimum of 25 MEPs are needed, representing at least seven member states.

At the same time, other parties are considering changing groups or allying themselves to a group for the first time.

Take a look at our table listing the parties up for grabs, based on the vast array of information from intelligence we have gathered and media reports – and contribute via the button below or the comments box at the bottom of the page.

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Five days on from the election: five reflections on the Commission presidency

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]This blogpost, originally published at 12:55 on Friday 30 May, has been updated following remarks by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, later on Friday afternoon.[/infopane]

That was the week that was: an odd few days where the European People’s Party won the European Parliament elections, but was also the biggest loser; and where Socialists in the Parliament backed the EPP lead candidate for the European Commission presidency, only for some centre-right leaders to apply the brakes in the European Council.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP lead candidate, is still the frontrunner and the only person formally in the running. His chances have been boosted tanks to comments by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Friday, that she is conducting negotiations on the basis that Juncker should be President.

However, it is clear that a number of heads of government would like to dump him in favour of someone else. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has been charged with an exploratory mission to find the person – Juncker included – who can command the sufficient majority in the Parliament and European Council.

Meanwhile, five political groups in the European Parliament have backed Juncker to have a first go at building majorities in the same institutions – and if he fails, are likely to call for Martin Schulz, lead candidate of the second-placed Socialists, to have a go.

If those who want to block Juncker in the European Council succeed – and it is not a done deal yet for the former Luxembourg prime minister – an inter-institutional battle between the Parliament and European Council will be on the cards.

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Elections round-up: EPP loses but stays as biggest group, while anti-EU parties surge

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Europe’s voters have backed a vast array of anti-EU and anti-establishment voters in the 2014 European Parliament elections, sending fewer MEPs from each of the main political groups back to Brussels and Strasbourg.

Despite being the biggest loser of the night in terms of seats, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) looks like emerging as the biggest party in the European Parliament with its support holding up in Germany and Poland among the larger member states, and good support across central and Eastern Europe. The Socialists are also set to lose a handful of seats, with the Liberals likely to lose around 20 seats according to the latest projections.

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The populist challenge and the mainstream response

Marley Morris of Counterpoint, a UK-based research group that focuses on cultural and social dynamics underpinning politics, economics and security, writes on the prospect of an increase in populist voices at the European elections:

The European Parliament elections contain a strange contradiction.

The next parliament, thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, will have more power than any of its predecessors. It will be able to elect the President of the European Commission for the first time. Vast areas of vital policy – not least the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – are at stake. And as the first pan-European elections since the worst moments of the eurozone crisis, the results will be analysed as a crucial gauge of public opinion.

Euranet Plus interview - Guest of the Week with MEP Marine LE PENAnd yet there is still a long way to go to making the European Parliament elections comparable in status to national polls. Eurobarometer tells us that only 54 per cent of European Union citizens are aware that the European Parliament is directly elected.

Efforts by the mainstream European-level parties to tout their ‘lead candidates’ seem to have had limited success, with many voters unaware of the contest, and numerous commentators suspecting that the next Commission president may well be someone else entirely.

A populist surge?

Ten days from the elections, the expectation is that apathy will translate into success for Eurosceptics and populists at the polls.

Marine Le Pen (right), the leader of France’s populist radical right National Front (FN) party, and Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam and Eurosceptic Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, pledged last year to join forces. They plan to form a political group with like-minded parties in the new Parliament. Wilders has said of the proposed alliance: “We will have an enormous influence… We are working on a historical project.”

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A more visual EU election?

Visual communication is steadily entering its way into online campaigns for the European Parliament elections.

Candidates and political parties are showing rather than describing what they stand for, and we can see rather than read how candidates are being interviewed, campaigning, speaking and making pledges.

Images with quotes signed by the lead candidates of the two largest European political parties, Jean-Claude Juncker (European People’s Party) and Martin Schulz (Party of European Socialists) regularly float by in Twitter and Facebook feeds.

The Liberal ALDE Party uses wordclouds to set out its values and the European Greens encourage voters to create their own digital campaign poster.

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50 days to go, 50 things to know about Europe’s year of change

The countdown continues: at 08:00 CET on Wednesday 2 April, there are exactly 50 days to go to the opening of the polls for the European Parliament elections.

Here is our overview of where we stand and what you need to know about Europe’s year of change:

Top jobs | Country-by-country | PollWatch 2014 | The elections and beyond | Reading list

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Weekend round-up: PES Congress confirms Schulz as common candidate

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Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, was officially confirmed as the ‘common candidate’ of the Party of European Socialists during an election congress in Rome.

Schulz – the only candidate – was backed by 368 delegates in the Italian capital. Two delegates opposed Schulz and 34 abstained.

In his acceptance speech, Schulz set out his priorities should he become President of the European Commission. He highlighted that his first priority would be employment, a theme that is also prominent in the Socialist manifesto, also adopted in Rome.

The Congress welcomed the Italian Democratic Party (PD) as its newest member, with the moniker ‘Socialists and Democrats’ now added to the Party’s logo – possibly hinting that the parliamentary Socialists and Democrats Group, whose name was changed to reflect the inclusion of the PD, will revert to the ‘PES’ name after the elections.

Read our Storify of the PES Congress (storify.com) See our photos from the Congress (flickr.com)
PES manifesto (pes.eu) Martin Schulz’ speech (pes.eu) Martin Schulz campaign website

The election of Schulz as the Socialists’ common candidate means that the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) is the only main party yet to officially name its candidate.

On Friday, Michel Barnier – the European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services – joined the race, nominated by his own party (France’s Union for a Popular Movement) and backed by EPP member parties in Hungary and Slovenia.

Barnier will face the former prime minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker (also backed by parties in Germany and Greece), who is favourite to win the nomination, and former Latvian PM Valdis Dombrovskis, who is supported by parties in Estonia and Lithuania, as well as his own party.

EPP delegates will pick the party’s lead candidate in Dublin on Friday.

EPP Dublin Elections Congress website

The European Democratic Party, whose members include the Democratic Movement (MoDem) in France, adopted its manifesto and will chose its common candidate on 12 March.

EDP manifesto (pde-edp.eu)
A number of national parties also selected candidates for the European Parliament elections this weekend (click the country name to go to the candidates list for that country):
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Read our lists of European Parliament candidates