Posts in "European Commission" Category — Page 2

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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Britain at the heart of Europe – on Twitter, at least

Vienna GfK studyNever mind the Pollock-style imagery: Axel Maireder‘s data-rich map of the European Twittersphere contains some fascinating insights into online conversations around the European Parliament elections.

Behind the explosion of colours is two months of tweets about the elections analysed by Maireder and his team at the University of Vienna, in collaboration with market research institute GfK. They tracked more than 1.3 million tweets from nearly half a million Twitter users to develop a map of the online political landscape.

Read the study by the University of Vienna and GfK Read more on the GfK website

The map – which features the 11,844 accounts that tweeted at least once about the elections and which were followed by at least 250 other accounts that also tweeted – helpfully visualises the most important and influential users who talked about the 25 May polls. Larger dots indicate a larger number of followers; the closer they are plotted, the greater the similarity in their followings.

But what is the meaning of this map and this data? And how can we use it?

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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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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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Addressing the challenge to sexual and reproductive rights

Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European Network, writes about the importance of the European elections for her organisation and its ‘I Decide’ campaign:

For many years, Europe has played a leading role in international discussions on development and human rights.

But now it is at a crossroads when it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). On the eve of the European Parliament elections, it is unclear whether Europe will remain a progressive force on issues relating to sexuality education, gay rights and access to safe abortion, or whether it will be blown off course by a wave of conservative hostility towards people’s freedom to make their own life choices.

SRHR have come under attack during the outgoing legislature by vocal anti-choice minorities. But this parliament’s legacy should, be one of consistent support for SRHR. The European elections and the changes in the European Commission will be enormously important in setting the political tone for the next five years, and the newcomers must continue to play a strong leadership role on SRHR and gender equality. The likely influx of Eurosceptics and far-right MEPs makes the landscape challenging.

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Who and what will shape health policy in the coming years?

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????By this time next week, we may be starting to witness momentous change in the European Union: new people, a new policy direction, and a new paradigm in the way the institutions relate to each other. But where will these changes leave health policy?

The results of the broader policy discussions that affect the healthcare sector – and in particular the pharmacutical and medical devices industries – may take a while to become clear. The results of negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and reform of the Troika could take several years to become clear, although we can begin to predict the impact the new European Commission and European Parliament will have on them.

In some cases, this could mean more battles ahead: for example, Martin Schulz – the Party of European Socialists‘ candidate for the Commission presidency –  has stated his commitment to TTIP, but many Socialists are reluctant to accept many key elements of the potential agreement, such as the investor-state dispute settlement, and this opposition could cause headaches for European businesses.

In more detailed healthcare policy terms, there is perhaps more clarity, and also a bit more certainty following the developments of the last five years.

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China tries to decipher the European elections tea leaves

David Fouquet, senior consultant at the European Institute of Asian Studies (EIAS), looks at the Chinese perspective on the European elections:

The European public outside the Brussels bubble gives every indication of being apathetic or unconvinced of the importance of the forthcoming European Parliament elections and their impact on the other European Union institutions.

So it seems somewhat incongruous that informed representatives from the other side of the world express interest, curiosity and even concern about the same developments.

Although not by any means a systematic survey, a personal sampling from repeated encounters with academics, journalists, diplomats and others from as far away as China indicates that these elections and transition have global impact, even if those Europeans immediately concerned seem indifferent.

This engagement with the European elections may reflect just polite small talk or circumstantial interest from a tiny elite and not the sentiment of the average person in Beijing to Kunming, but it does highlight the contemporary relations between Europe and China, and undoubtedly other major Asia or global partners of the EU.

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Consumers’ concerns must be front and centre in European elections

Monique Goyens, the Director General of BEUC – the European Consumer Organisation – writes on some important priorities for Europe after the elections:

On 22-25 May, the full panoply of European politicians – from socialist to nationalist, green to conservative, liberal to independent and more – will ask Europeans for their vote.

There is a consensus that the complexion of the European Parliament will change significantly. The pursuit of the European Commission presidency is ongoing and keenly fought. But regardless of who takes the EU reins, they will have to oversee a large number of consumer laws of everyday relevance.

BEUC – the European Consumer Organisation – has written an Election Manifesto for those who will be in charge, flagging the foremost consumer interests in European policies.

These elections will be about (re)winning people’s attention and trust. If the EU wants to get closer to its citizens and lessen popular perceptions of it being distant, then it must consider consumers as integral to each of its initiatives.

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‘Crazy about digital’ – but what about the substance?

It has taken the European elections to finally give the digital agenda the political priority it deserves.

The three principal lead candidates for the European Commission presidency – Jean-Claude Juncker (European People’s Party), Martin Schulz (Party of European Socialists) and Guy Verhofstadt (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party) – are, in the words of Neelie Kroes“going crazy about digital”.

Yet just five short years ago, when Kroes was appointed Vice-President of the Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, many people – especially in her native Netherlands – were quick to criticise the role as a minor one in comparison to her former position as the mighty Competition Commissioner.

The reaction today will be much different, because there is no doubt that the digital agenda holds the key to a globally competitive economy and job creation.

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