Do MEPs get to vote for the new President of the European Commission?

Published: 5th Jul 2019

In brief

Claim

Not a single one of the four nominees to key EU positions was voted on by MEPs.

Conclusion

MEPs don’t nominate any of the four candidates, but two of the roles (President of the European Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs) do still need to be approved by MEPs and they are consulted on a third.

“Not a single one of [the four nominees to key EU positions] voted on by MEPs, all stitched up behind closed doors.”

Richard Tice MEP, 3 July 2019

Earlier this week, the nominations for four of the most powerful positions within the EU were announced.

The European Council was responsible for nominating the four candidates. The Council is made up of the heads of state or government of all EU member countries, the European Council President (currently Donald Tusk) and the President of the European Commission (currently Jean-Claude Juncker).

Brexit Party chairman and MEP Richard Tice commented saying none of the nominations for the four roles had been voted on by MEPs.

It’s correct that none of the nominations were made by MEPs. In addition, the Council did not choose to nominate any of the candidates for President of the European Commission that were supported by the main party groupings with the European Parliament.

However two of the roles do need to be approved by MEPs.

One is the nominee for President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

In order to become President, she must receive approval from more than 50% of MEPs in the European Parliament. The MEPs were elected in May, and the European Commission told us that the vote is set to take place in the week beginning 15 July.

If elected, she’ll be the head of the EU’s executive arm, which is responsible for proposing laws and implementing policies. Laws it proposes have to be approved by both the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (which is different to the European Council and is made up of government ministers from each member state).

The second is Josep Borrell, who has been nominated as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs (responsible for conducting the EU’s foreign and security policy). His role also has to approved by vote of consent from the European parliament, as do the roles of all other members of the European Commission.

MEPs are also consulted on one of the other appointments, though they don’t necessarily have the final say. That’s the role of President of the European Central Bank (the central bank of the member states that have adopted the Euro) which Christine Lagarde has been nominated for. The European Council has to consult with MEPs and the Bank before finalising the decision.

The final role, which MEPs have no say over, is President of the European Council (the Council sets the EU’s overall political direction but does not have legislative power). He has already been elected by the Council.

All four will take up their posts later this year, subject to their appointments being approved.


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