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The New European Commission Presidency and the Advent of European Democracy. Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series Vol. 14 No. 17, August 2014

Gutiérrez, Mathieu Kroon (2014) The New European Commission Presidency and the Advent of European Democracy. Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series Vol. 14 No. 17, August 2014. [Working Paper]

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    On June 15, 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker, the lead candidate of the European People’s Party, was elected President of the European Commission, with the support of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and some of the European Socialists and Greens. Amid unprecedented Euroscepticism, the media and many pundits predicted a record-low voter turnout and record-high results for Europhobic parties. The aforementioned parties then decided that the political outcome of these 2014 European elections would also be unprecedented. For the first time in EU history, the European political parties agreed to nominate candidates to chair the institution, which they justified by putting forward Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty. The European Parliament has often characteristically used political discourse - the logos, to influence the EU’s institutional framework, even though it entails grappling with Member States. It took the form of reports and resolutions, like the official use of the phrase “European Parliament” in 1962, direct universal suffrage elections in 1975 and a European Union in 1984. Nominating contenders to chair the European Commission is no exception. It requires a specific political discourse whose origins can be traced back to the early years of the European Parliament, when it was still the “Common Assembly”. This political discourse is one of the elements thanks to which the European Parliament acquired visibility and new prerogatives, in pursuit of its legitimacy. However, the executive branch in all member states is not intent on yielding such prerogatives to the European Parliament. As a matter of fact, the European Parliament has often ended up strengthening the heads of state and governments, since MEPs are forced to resort to self-discipline. The symbolic significance of its logos and, consequently, its own politicisation as a source of legitimacy, is thus undermined. For instance, in 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker’s election actually strengthened German Chancellor Angela Merkel. First she questioned the fact that the candidate whose party holds the parliamentary majority after the election should be appointed President of the Commission. Then she seemed strongly intent on democratising the Union, when she confronted David Cameron, who openly opposed Juncker, believed to be too federalist and old-fashioned a candidate. By doing so, she eventually reduced the symbolic dimension of the European Parliament’s initiative, and Juncker’s election. She also unquestionably embodied EU leadership. This paper aims at analysing Juncker’s election to the Presidency of the European Commission, as well as other questions it raises. In the first part, I lay out some thoughts about the sociohistorical context of voting in European elections in order to make the readers understand why the European Parliament should be bolder. Secondly, I try to explain how the European Parliament has used the logos as a weapon to grapple with member states for more power, as was the case during the 2014 European elections. Last but not least, I seek to show how Angela Merkel got hold of that weapon and took advantage of it, thus proving that despite MEPs’ best efforts, Juncker’s task will be all the more complicated as he was not the consensual candidate of all the governments.

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    Item Type: Working Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > European Commission
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > democracy/democratic deficit
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > University of Miami, Florida-EU Center of Excellence > Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series
    Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2015 11:09
    Number of Pages: 19
    Last Modified: 15 Jan 2018 12:24

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