Barnier, Verhofstadt, Weidmann, Borrell: there are already candidates for the EU top jobs.
It’s too early, OK. But one way to spark citizen vote for European election would be to tell them about what’s going next. Anyone in EU affairs has already started betting. And the fun might well last for a bit.
Heads of state have already planned to meet the day after the election, but that is mainly because this informal party is organized by EPP European council president, Donald Tusk, EPP’s Jean-Claude Juncker – and EPP’s Antonio Tajani will also be there.
If polls are of any use, EPP won’t have a clear majority on 26 May. If it has, Manfred Weber will be chosen as the Commissions’ new president, and other jobs will be attributed quickly.
If it has not, negotiations will start among political groups to gather a majority. If heads of states are allowed to chose the European Commission President, he or she still has to be accepted by the European Parliament. And with most parties claiming they want more power for MEPs, it won’t be that easy accept just anyone.
France will be quick to suggest Michel Barnier as a best solution : he has already seduced everyone, and he is seen as a European rather than French candidate. But this hypothesis will need to be checked among parties. Socialists have cold feet about a new grand coalition; they will be asking for a big compensation for their vote. A time-shared European Parliament presidency, like Martin Schulz got in 2014, with the center or EPP for the second part of the mandate. They are also positioning for foreign affairs : Spanish Prime minister Pedro Sanchez has already expressed his ambition to appoint a top politician.
It seems that he already has a candidate to replace Federica Mogherini at the High representative: Josep Borrell, head of list of the Spanish socialists.
If France has the Commission, Germany should get the top ECB job, for Jens Weidmann, the present Bundesbank president, and if Spain has the foreign affairs, that leaves 2 jobs for small and eastern countries: EU Council presidency, probably EPP, and the European Parliament for two and a half years.
Another hypothesis is waiting for Brexit. As UK plans to stay in the EU until Halloween, the face of the EP could change in November. There could be a temptation to wait until the real Parliament is ready, rather than nominating everybody two weeks before. The recruiting session might be very very long.