Posts in "Slovenia" Category

A five-point guide to the EU top jobs puzzle

This weekend, the European Council will meet again to decide on the holders of the EU’s top jobs.

Here’s our five-point guide to Saturday’s meeting and what it means – and have your say on one of the key issues of the summer by voting in our poll.

1. Time for action

hvr squareAfter the failure to agree on the top jobs at the last summit in July, European Union leaders are under pressure to reach an accord. The European Council is increasingly gaining a reputation as an institution that takes too long to decide anything, and whose decisions are often ‘fudges’.

Saturday is the crunch moment: if EU leaders fail to conclude a ‘package’ of appointments, it will put paid to any remote hopes of appointing the Commission on time. More importantly in the long term, it will increase popular and global perceptions of the EU as a sclerotic organisation. Herman Van Rompuy (pictured left), the President of the European Council, was criticised by EU leaders and many analysts for not preparing a watertight deal before July’s summit (although he was not helped by some prime ministers). The President will not want another failure.

The decisions are not easy: there are significant political, institutional and personal headaches for the 28 leaders. But the leaders are there to lead, and to decide. It’s time to act.

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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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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]
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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.


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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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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Coalitions, commissioners and election sandwiches: the European elections in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia

With the European Parliament election campaign hotting up across the continent, we take a snapshot of the situation in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia.

Blogpost compiled with the support of Chapter 4, Burson-Marsteller’s exclusive affiliate in South East and Central and Eastern Europe. 


Plenary session week 3 2014 - Hercule III programme and protection of the European Union's financial interests

The European election in Croatia will be a crucial examination for the ruling left-wing coalition, led by the Social Democrats (SDP).

The government has just entered the second half of its mandate and has faced several scandals, often clumsily handled. The SDP has suffered its worst opinion poll scores in several years and there have been internal clashes.

While the election will be a test of credibility for the ruling party, it is also a chance to test the strength of the main opponent, the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ – a member of the European People’s Party), which is still dogged by memories of corruption scandals from its long period in power.

Given the troubles for the two main parties, an opportunity opens for several other groups to position themselves. Dozens of new parties that have been founded in the last twelve months will face their first test.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Croatia

The SDP and HDZ are both running in the election at the head of a coalition (the HDZ is leading the right-wing Union for Croatia, whose list includes Ruža Tomašić (pictured), an MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group).

Last year’s inaugural European election in Croatia saw a scramble for positions on the lists, with the posts in Brussels being seen as prestigious and lucrative – a common statute for MEPs means that Croatian members are paid vastly more than parliamentarians in Zagreb. This year will see a repeat.

However, one Social Democrat who is likely to stand in the election will almost certainly not take up his seat: the current Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Neven Mimica, is likely to be Croatia’s nominee to the European Commission for the second time.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Croatia

On 19 March Croatian president Ivo Josipović announced that the elections will be held on 25 May, expressing his wish that all parties talk about the possibilities Croatia has as an EU member.

Viktor Orbán, on the left, and José Manuel Barroso

Few people in Hungary are discussing the European elections, with a general election due to take place in less than three weeks’ time.

Indeed, the European poll is part of an ‘election sandwich’, with municipal elections due to take place in the autumn.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Hungary

At the moment, the centre-right government of Viktor Orbán (pictured) is set to win a big majority in the new Hungarian parliament. His party, Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union, is set to win half of all votes, with the centre-left Unity coalition, featuring the Socialists, at around 25%. The extreme-right Jobbik – Movement for a Better Hungary party is currently set to win around 15% of the vote.

The new electoral system will see one round of voting, a parliament that is almost halved in size, and a greater emphasis on constituency seats rather than party lists. There is a threshold for entry into parliament of five per cent for single parties; more for combined lists.

After the national elections, the parties will start to focus on Europe; indeed, Fidesz is due to publish its list of candidates only after the election. One potentially interesting development is the high score for Jobbik in the opinion polls, especially given that European Parliament elections see a surge in support for fringe parties.

Hungary’s nominee to the European Commission is likely to come from Fidesz if the party, as expected, wins the national election. The likely nominee is also set to head the party’s list for the European Parliament election.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Hungary

Names being mooted are Enikő Győri, the Europe minister and face of the country’s EU presidency in 2011. She has excellent European and international credentials, speaks many languages, and would probably pass the hearing in the Parliament without much difficulty.

Other contenders include the justice minister, Tibor Navracsics, and current MEP József Szájer, who has been in the Parliament since Hungary joined the EU and has worked mainly on constitutional issues.

Janez Potocnik at the EU Hope ConferenceWith just over three months to go to the elections, the political situation in Slovenia is beginning to clarify a little.

On the centre-right, New Slovenia (NSi) and the Slovenian People’s Party (SLS) – both affiliated to the EPP – will run a common list, with Alojz Peterle MEP among the candidates. As for the other EPP-affiliated party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), Romana Jordan is set to stand down, but Milan Zver is likely to run again.

The Social Democrats will probably field Tanja Fajon and Mojca Kleva Kekuš – both currently MEPs. But there is also speculation that the party’s President, Igor Lukšič will lead the list. The order of these candidates could be crucial with Positive Slovenia (PS), a party established since the last European election but which now leads the government, likely to compete strongly for seats.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Slovenia

PS will join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group, where Jelko Kacin MEP of Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) and Ivo Vajgl MEP of Zares – Social Liberals currently sit. However, due to the very low public support for LDS Kacin may lose his seat, while Vajgl is now backed by the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS) – a centrist party focused on rights of older people.

As for the nominee to the European Commission, Janez Potočnik (pictured), who will not stand in the election, will try to get the government’s support but may face a battle to stay on for a third term (even if it would help secure a more important portfolio for the country’s nominee). In Slovenia, unlike in many other countries, the government has to approve the nomination, not just the prime minister.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Slovenia

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


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 ( See our photos from the Congress (
PES manifesto ( Martin Schulz’ speech ( 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 (
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


Party games: the Parliament and its post-election musical chairs

Six months away from the European Parliament elections, the first serious set of predictions are being made.

Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute, a Paris-based think-tank, has recently published a must-read policy paper in which it predicts that the centre-left Socialists & Democrats Group (S&D) will oust the centre-right European People’s Party Group (EPP) as the largest group in the new Parliament.

And in February, Burson-Marsteller Brussels will support the launch – as part of Europe Decides – of PollWatch, a VoteWatch Europe project that will take an in-depth and regular look at opinion polls and the likely composition of the new assembly.

However, the election results are only part of the story. Post-election horse-trading and haggling plays a key role in determining the final composition of the groups and – significantly this time – the creation of a majority to back the appointment of a new President of the European Commission.

Political positioning and the distribution of key roles (such as committee chairs or group spokespeople) may help sway the decisions of national party delegations on where to sit.

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