No matter the result of the May elections, 2014 will be a year of changes at the top of the European Union. It should actually not a surprise, when you look at the elections’ slogan: “This time, it is different.”
Quick check-list of changes:
- 751 members of the European Parliament;
- The President of the European Commission;
- 27 Commissioners for the member states;
- The President of the European Council
- A EU high representative for foreign and security policy
- A Presidents of the European Parliament
No brainer there: the first ones to go will of course be the Members of the European Parliament (MEPS)– we can expect at least a bit of changes in their ranks this year, if anything because of the surge of eurosceptic parties in Europe. FYI, the elections take place at the end of May, but the Parliament’s composition will remain unchanged until June 2, 2014.
Next, it’s bye bye to EU Commission President Barroso. The former Prime Minister of Portugal has been leading the Commission for the past ten years. Let’s once again underline the fact that, for the first time, and as a direct consequence of the 2010 Lisbon Treaty, the EU elections will have an impact on the election of his replacement : the EU council’s vote should reflect the majorities identified within the European Parliament through these elections.
We are also saying goodbye to Catherine Ashton, who will have to step down with all EU Commissioners. Small commentary here: we can only hope for a more decisive representative for the EU Foreign Policy. As several critics pointed out when she was nominated, Ashton just did not have the charisma and stature necessary to overshadow the national representatives of the EU member states. It was a strategic decision of course, but therefore the choice of her replacement will be telling as to the lessons the EU member states took away from the Ukraine crisis.
Finally, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has announced that he will not try for another mandate when the current one expires next December.
Most of these positions are up to hard bargaining within and sometimes outside the Union. The EU commissioners, for example, are chosen by the Commission’s President and representatives of the 28 member states. An important commissioner spot (Internal Market for example) may be given in exchange for support on the nomination of another top EU officer.