April 22. 2024. 7:20

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Greens to elect a ‘spitzenkandidat’ for next EU elections

The European Greens will officially elect a candidate for the European Commission presidency ahead of next May’s European elections, a process known as ‘spitzenkandidat’, a senior party source told EURACTIV on Friday (31 March).

The party held the Greens Leadership Council in Brussels on Friday where they discussed how the spitzenkandidaten process will be managed internally. Also on the agenda was how to put together the party narrative for the EU campaign, how to cooperate with other political parties and how to deal with the rise of the far right across Europe, the source told EURACTIV.

The spitzenkandidat process is set out in the EU treaties, but it is not mandatory, and the formal treaty process is for EU leaders in the European Council to propose the candidate for the Commission presidency, “taking into account” the outcome of the European Parliament elections.

The candidate then has to be ‘elected’ by a majority in the European Parliament to take office.

During the 2014 EU elections, a spitzenkandidaten electoral campaign took place for the first time. Following the polls, Jean Claude Junker, the top candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP), which won the most seats in Parliament, became the president of the Commission.

However, in 2019 German Christian Democrat Ursula von der Leyen nominated president of the EU executive despite Manfred Weber, also a German, being the spitzencandidat of the EPP.

Since then, national governments have quietly played down the significance and value of the process. EU ministers have declined to discuss proposals from the Parliament to make the spitzenkandidaten a mandatory procedure.

EU countries to reject Spitzenkandidaten and pan-EU election lists

EU governments are set to formally kill off plans for transnational lists and Spitzenkandidaten, or lead candidates, at the next European elections in 2024.

National electoral laws

In a video interview with EURACTIV, the EPP lawmaker Danuta Maria Hübner, one of the lead MEPs in attempting to negotiate the EU electoral law, said that the current EU electoral law “is frustrating for many of us”, because it has been in place since 1979, when the Union was “very different from now”.

EU lawmaker: Electoral law system is frustrating for many of us

When the EU electoral system was established, ahead of the first European Parliament elections in 1979, the bloc had nine member states instead of the current 27 and 410 MEPs, in comparison to the current 705.

“[It] is frustrating for many …

The Parliament has repeatedly tried to propose a reform of the electoral laws without success.

MEPs recently voted for a reform of the law to create transnational lists in May 2022, without any reaction from EU ministers.

The aim is to add “28 additional members to be elected transnationally”, Domenec Ruiz Devesa, an MEP from the Socialist group, and rapporteur of the transnational lists reform, told EURACTIV.

“Unfortunately, the European elections, we call them European, but they are very national because you have national debates, national polemics, national political parties that table the candidates at the national level”, added Devesa.

EU lawmaker: Electoral reform ‘doable’ by 2024 elections

The approval of the reform of EU electoral law is absolutely doable before the next EU elections are due in spring 2024, Domenec Ruiz Devesa, a Spanish member of the European Parliament responsible for legislative text dedicated to the reform and transnational lists, told EURACTIV.