Election of the European Commission

On October 22, the European Parliament elected the new Commission with 423 in favour, 209 against and 67 abstentions

By Dods EU monitoring

23 Oct 2014

Please note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.

The vote was preceded by statements from Political groups and a vote on four motions for resolution tabled by the ALDE, ECRGUE/NGL and Greens/EFA groups, which were all rejected. Please find a summary of the statements below.

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE) said that many of the individual positions have been put forward. He thought that members should think about compromises and move away from political viewpoints. He asked colleagues to assume their responsibilities. The EPP group will support the new Commission, he concluded.

Gianni Pittella (S&D, IT) confirmed the positive vote from the S&D group because there is a positive new architecture for Europe. About austerity policies, he said that if they want courageous structural reforms they have to make sure they use most of the flexibility allowed by the Treaties. He welcomed the social triple A concept evoked by Juncker. The focus on investment is decisive as well. On the Investment plan, Juncker said that the private sector has to show responsibility and he agreed with this. They need structural reforms to get rid of obstacles to growth. If despite these reforms, growth does not come, perhaps it is not enough and a reboosting of domestic demand is needed. Solidarity is the heart of the EU project and beyond Europe, he explained, mentioning the Ebola tragedy which is a test for us to tackle. Whatever people nationality is, we do not want to let anybody behind, he added. The challenge is not only to be a believer but to be believed, he concluded.

Ryszard Antoni Legutko (ECR, PL) said that the ECR group will abstain. The team is far from a dream team but there are some good people and there is some hope. The ECR group is on the side of subsidiarity and would not promise the good that cannot be delivered. The Commission cannot reduce youth unemployment as much as it would like to, because it does not have the instruments to do so. The mention of innovation was to Juncker’s credit, but the Parliament and the Commission do not have the instruments to boost innovation, he insisted. He urged Juncker to practice the virtue of self-restraint. Do not be overactive, he added. The subsidiarity principle is to be treated seriously.

Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE) said that the ALDE group will support the new Commission. The debate was useful and made clear that there are two visions of Europe, one willing to move forward the EU and the other one from Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen. The debate has made things clear and he concluded that he believes in the future; that is why ALDE will vote in favour of the Commission.

Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, DE) said that this will be a political decision. It is not about Juncker’s personal capability, but whether the Commission will be political enough to cope with the changes the EU is facing. For the Group, what is proposed is not enough, and they have not been convinced that the EU will be functioning in solidarity. Doubts exist about certain Commissioners’ will to follow what citizens want and whether the Commission will make the necessary changes, work for more democracy and integration. On immigration, it is not clear what the Commission is going to do, he added. They are not convinced that the new Commission will work to protect people, animals and the climate. These remarks were not just for the Commission but for other MEPs. The Group is disappointed by many of them. There is a great coalition in the EU and Parliament. But this is a price too high to pay, he concluded.

Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE) said that there are at a turning point. The future President is the man who came to this position thanks to the Parliament, an important step towards the development of EU democracy. It is a shame that they missed the opportunity of the hearings to make the Commission, the Juncker team, a team for the Parliament. The Group judged several Commissioners in a very positive way. The Greens/EFA is a pro-European Group and now they have the greater challenges ahead.

David Borrelli (EFDD, IT) said that this is momentous occasion with many major challenges. The Parliament is asked to give faith and approve Juncker’s ideas of Europe, which are based on austerity. Beyond the individual people, he asked whether this strategy is adaptive to the time before us, responding to the difficulties of the citizens. The Group wants to look at this very carefully and this is a very dangerous time now. The values are substituted by reasons of state and they are running against the principle of collegiality. Juncker is also giving people the task of curing a disease they caused themselves. Very few countries hold powers today and the Group will vote against the Commission. They want a truer Europe, closer to citizens.

Marine Le Pen (NI, FR) said Juncker is proposing more austerity which will lead to more poverty. Juncker is not based on any popular legitimacy. She further criticised other Commissioners for their background and asked about ethics and independence in policy. The Commission has not achieved and will not be able to achieve that. There will be more free trade, the CAP will put farmers to their knees and Juncker is seeking for a new TTIP agreement which will align with the standards of the US. Furthermore, the current euro policy will carry on in impoverishing people of Europe.

Following the vote, the representative of the Council Benedetto Della Vedova congratulated President Juncker and the Commission for the vote of approval received by the Assembly. It is a vote of confidence. It prepares the course toward the appointment by the European Council which should be carried out by the end of the week. The Commission will play a key role in tackling the challenges ahead of us in terms of jobs, a consistent EU policy for energy and climate, and security policy. The Commission cannot tackle the challenges alone and will need the cooperation of the Parliament and Council. He emphasised the commitment of the Council to work with the Commission in the next five years. Their actions will be judged by citizens. He was pleased that Juncker recognised that citizens want things to be done differently. The way the Commission is organised is a sign of this will to act differently. Juncker speech proved that he is a supporter of the EU idea and he will get the support and encouragement of the Council.

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