'The European parliament’s political groups have united to condemn the selection of the next European Commission president, branding the process an undemocratic stitch-up by national governments.
EU leaders chose Ursula von der Leyen as their pick to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as the leader of the European Union’s executive branch despite the fact she was not on the ballot paper as a candidate and has no manifesto.
The European Council effectively ignored the European parliament’s spitzenkandidat, or “lead candidate” system, which was supposed to inject an element of democracy into the selection of commission president – instead nominating the defence minister, who is largely unknown outside Germany.
“I’m not going to congratulate the council. President Tusk, I cannot support how things were done and the lack of respect that you’ve shown to other institutions,” said Gonzalez Pons, spokesperson for the dominant centre-right EPP group in the parliament. The EPP’s criticism of the process is notable because Ms Von der Leyen, a member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party, is actually a member of the EPP.
Mr Pons continued: “The future of Europe can no longer be decided behind closed doors. The spizenkandidat process is not about one person or one name – the citizens of Europe want to elect the person who is governing Europe. This is not revolutionary, this is democracy.
“The council has the right to propose a candidate to lead the commission to lead the parliament. However, what the council doesn’t have the right to do is to ignore all the candidates that have been voted for by European citizens.” He said the approach of carving up other top jobs taken by EU leaders was “clearly against the treaties”.'
Read more: ‘This is not democracy’: European parliament unites to condemn selection of new EU Commission president behind closed doors
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