EP Elections – Important or Irrelevant


The mess over choosing the next EU Commission President Worsens

Carnegie Europe’s excellent director, Jan Techau, wrote a comment yesterday arguing that a false promise was made to EU electors that their votes would help decide who the next Commission president would be.You can read full article here http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/?fa=55778

I took issue with Jan in tweets which is never satisfactory and then wrote these two comments on the Carnegie website below his article.


Thanks Jan but respectfully why did you and Tim Garton Ash and everyone write and write and write about the ‘Democratic Deficit’ and tell the world that all decisions were taken undemocratically behind closed doors.

The culture that the EU was run by technocrats without any democratic accountability is one of the poisonous lies of the last 15-20 years.

I opposed the PES going in for nominating a Commission president for the 2009 election but the main governing parties, above all in Germany, insisted and insisted on having a presidential context election.

It was an old cry of Joschka Fischer and Pierre Moscovici wrote ‘Donnez-nous un president pour l’Europe’ in Le Monde a decade ago. Please send me all the elite EU opinion-formers who opposed the idea in recent years. Now it has come to a choice of Jean Claude Juncker everyone is excited and hostile.

Instead names like the classic Wall St-Davos-IMF elite insider Mme Lagarde is proposed. I think she and Juncker have to accept some blame for the disaster of 2008 and the dreadful austerity ideology that has led to Europe’s lost decade and 26 million out of work.


It is not that we have a roomful of brilliant EU Commission presidents. Yes it will revert to a closed corridor secret deal based on squalid trades and in a few months we can say ‘Habemus presidentem’ and then you and others will complain that the EU is secret, unaccountable and has a democratic deficit!

(There were one or two more comments and today I added this one)

It is an important point namely that the EU treaty makes it clear since Lisbon six years ago that elections to the EP were now part of the Commission president selection process.

Off hand I do not recall any of the EU commentariat criticising this.  On the contrary they constantly moaned and denounced the democratic deficit.

I did not because  on the whole I think the EU is not a construct that can replace national democracy. I have argued and written over a decade for a senate of national parliaments to be a filter though which EP decisions should go.

This has not made me popular with MEPs who think the executive heads of government in the Council are a kind of second chamber which is silly. The exclusion of around 10,000+ national parliamentarians from any part of EU decision making has contributed to the rise of the feeling that Brussels is out of touch etc.

I also opposed the PES naming a Spitzenkandidat for 2009 election when I represented Labour on it. But the Juncker-Schulz-Verhofstadt contest was a genuine attempt to get some democratic competition into the process.

I am sorry so many friends especially from UK media are dumping on it.

I do not think Juncker is right man but the more the UK elite media trash him and more he is difficult to dump.

Cameron has made another tactical error in com in out as the ‘Kill Juncker’ man. He may claim credit for internal UK political reasons if finally Juncker isn’t chosen but at the price of further presenting the UK as being unwilling ever to work constructively in Europe.

If Juncker does get it, then Cameron is humiliated. Lose-lose for the UK.

Finally I have been checking French and German media on Reuters story that Merkel has asked Hollande to propose Lagarde.  I can’t find anything. Not saying it’s untrue but if it was serious I would have though it would have surfaced by now?


Oddly enough as David Charter reported in The Times a short while ago Juncker is the only candidate who has expressed sympathy for UK and said efforts must be made to avoid Brexit.  Hug him close, Dave. He may be a better friend than you realise!

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