Following the elections to the European Parliament, ACELG director Christina Eckes was invited by Dutch news show 'NOS Nieuwsuur' to analyse the election results and their impact on the political dynamics within the EU in the coming years.
Talking about the influence of the elections to European Parliament (EP) on the appointment of the next President of the European Commission, Christina Eckes refers to a sentence in Article 17(7) TEU:
"Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission." [highlight by the author] (source: EUR-Lex)
According to Eckes this sentence seems to be commonly interpreted in favour of 'the biggest fraction' in the Parliament, from whose ranks the next President of the Commission is usually chosen. But considering both the European People's Party and the Socialist & Democrats have both continuously lost votes for the past 25 years, perhaps this common reading shouldn't be taken for granted anymore: "you could say that people want change."
A widely shared critique of EU politics is the lack of open debate and backroom politics. The increasing fragmentation in the EP's composition might lead to more and more open debate on political issues. In this context, Eckes encourages the media to report more about the process of polticial decision making within the EU and not only on the outcomes.
Emphasising the EPs political power, Eckes reminds viewers that the EP has become co-legislator for 90% of new EU legislation since the Lisbon Treaty has come into effect. The leap in voter turnout from 42% to 51% will increase the EPs legitimacy and will therefore further increase its power within the EU.
Because MEPs aren't bound to vote with their political group, there is greater uncertainty (compared to national parliaments) in obtaining support for proposals by any colation of political groups. According to Eckes, this may well put the 'Greens' into a position of kingmaker in the new parliament.
The success of the right-wing populists on the other hand will depend on the degree to which the members of this group will be able to cooperate. Eckes expects that it will at times be difficult for populists to cooperate on specific issues.
Asked about the role of France and Germany after the elections, Eckes states that the time of the Franco-German axis seems to have come to an end and that smaller countries may gain more power within the EU as a consequence.
View the full interview on the website of NOS Nieuwsuur (in Dutch).