Senior MEP blasts EU Council for ‘lack of respect’ in ‘secret plot’ top jobs decision
A senior EPP deputy in Parliament has launched a blistering attack on Member States after they cast aside the Spitzenkandidat process for appointing the next European Commission President.
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None of the Spitzenkandidaten, including the EPP’s Manfred Weber and the Socialists’ Frans Timmermans, were appointed. Instead, German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen is the choice for the presidency.
Speaking on Thursday in a parliamentary debate on the outcome of the EU summit which decided the top jobs in the bloc, Esteban González Pons told MEPs, “I cannot support how things were done at the summit and the lack of respect shown to others.”
“Manfred Weber still has our support as he represents the spirit of Europe. We also continue to defend the Spitzen process because citizens have the right to vote for who is governing them.
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“We will continue to fight for it five years from now. Council should not impose its will on citizens.”
Nevertheless, despite his criticism of Council, he added, “But the EPP will support the candidate who has been put forward by Council because we accept our responsibility.”
“We are proud that Ursula von der Leyen is a centre-right politician and the first woman to lead EU. But whoever is appointed will have to negotiate with Parliament.”
The deputy, who was standing in for Manfred Weber in the post-summit debate, added, “The future of Europe cannot be decided via secret plots or behind closed doors. Council has the right to propose a candidate but not to ignore all the candidates who were voted by citizens.”
“I cannot support how things were done at the summit and the lack of respect shown to others … The future of Europe cannot be decided via secret plots or behind closed doors” Esteban González Pons
González Pons also claimed that Member States had “excluded” candidates from Eastern Europe as no one from Easter Europe is on the list put forward by council.
The MEP added, “Deciding who is in charge of the ECB as if this was just another political choice, is also wrong. This is not democratic and supports the Eurosceptics in this Parliament.
“None of our Member States would accept this being done in their countries. There will now be conflict between Parliament and Council.”
He also lambasted the Brexit Party whose members turned away when the EU anthem was played in the chamber on Wednesday, saying, “Turning your back on the EU anthem is disrespectful. We would never turn our back on the UK anthem in such a way.”
More criticism came from Socialist leader Iratxe García Pérez, who told the debate the choice “should have been Frans Timmermans for the EC presidency but he was unable to achieve his goal because he has defended the rule of law in Europe.”
She warned, “We are going to be very demanding with next Commission.”
Dacian Cioloș, leader of Renew Europe, said, “We must democratise the process of appointing the various EU roles. Currently, there is no transparent process for those who will be leading Europe. We don’t have a geographic balance in the appointments and we need people who genuinely represent the public.”
“We must democratise the process of appointing the various EU roles. Currently, there is no transparent process for those who will be leading Europe” Dacian Cioloș, leader of Renew Europe
Greens co-leader Philippe Lamberts said the EU jobs package meant there was now a “risk of a sterile conflict with the Parliament.”
Speaking in Strasbourg, the Belgian said, “At the end of the day, national interests got in the way of the EU project. It is easy to criticise heads of state but Parliament has only itself to blame.”
He thanked European Council President Donald Tusk who, in the debate, asked for the Greens to take part in any coalition-building in Parliament.
But he added, “I have to say, though in this Parliament, involving the Greens has not been an effort shared across the board.”
He pledged, “Our house is burning and we Greens will use our 72 members to get a fairer, more sustainable and democratic Europe.”
Speaking of the outcome of the summit, Marco Zanni, of the ID group, said, “Once again the EU has put on a show unworthy of its citizens. There was some small hope for change but citizens were left disappointed again by decisions made too quickly.”
“The inter-institutional wrangling which has been going on is something the public will be unable to understand.”
“At the end of the day, national interests got in the way of the EU project. It is easy to criticise heads of state but Parliament has only itself to blame” Philippe Lamberts Greens co-leader
He also said there had been “no respect” shown for the Spitzen process and also lamented a “lack of consistency by the Parliament and its empty words”.
Polish deputy Ryszard Legutko, co-leader of the ECR group, said, “The Spitzen process is dead and gone. It is even more dead that the parrot in the Monty Python sketch. I am glad it is because there is no mention of this process in the EU treaties.”
He said, “Frans Timmermans, for example, was not a candidate of the people but of the left-wing establishment. The lamentable spectacle on Wednesday at the summit shows a lack of respect for the rules. The good news is that the EU big guys failed to achieve what they wanted.”
The Brexit party’s Ann Widdecombe, sitting beside a grinning Nigel Farage, said, “If I needed any convincing at all that the best thing for Britain is to leave here as soon as possible it was the way that those elections were conducted yesterday.”
“The Spitzen process is dead and gone. It is even more dead that the parrot in the Monty Python sketch” Ryszard Legutko, co-leader of the ECR group
“If that is this place’s idea of democracy then that is a serious betrayal of every country that is represented here because it is not democratic at all and that is just one of many reasons why Britain is right to be leaving this place, hopefully on Halloween.”
She added, “There is a pattern consistent throughout history of oppressed people turning on the oppressors. Slaves against their owners, the peasantry against the feudal barons, colonies Mr Verhofstadt against their empires.”
“And that is why Britain is leaving and it doesn’t matter which language you use, we are going and we are glad to be going.”
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