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European Election News

by Danilo Gattullo, FiscalNote

The makeup of the new Parliament is changing. Stay connected to what's going on as we cover every phase in detail.

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What will happen?When

European Parliament Elections

23-26 May 2019

New Commission takes office

1 November 2019

New President of the European Council takes office

1 December 2019

European Parliament elections

In a direct vote on 23-26 May, citizens in 27 EU member states will elect 705 MEPs to form the new Parliament for the period 2019-2024. MEPs are elected according to national electoral systems, but these have to observe certain common rules established by EU law such as proportional representation and common provisions on electoral thresholds.

Following the vote, new Political Groups will be formed during the month of June 2019. Each MEP will decide to formally become a member of an EU political group and each group will internally elect its bureau and president. The formation of a new political group requires 25 MEPs from 7 different Member States.

At the first plenary session (2-4 July 2019) MEPs will elect the bureau of the European Parliament (President, 14 Vice-Presidents and 5 Quaestors). The President should be elected by an absolute majority of MEPs.

If no member holds an absolute majority after three ballots, a fourth ballot is held with only the two members holding the highest number of votes on the previous ballot. If there is still a tie following this, the eldest candidate is declared elected.

European Parliament’s Committees will also be set up and their scope defined. During the first Committee meeting (July 2019) the Committees’ Presidents and Vice-Presidents will be elected by the MEPs members of those Committees.

All elected offices in the European Parliament, i.e. President, Vice-President, Quaestor, Committee Chair and Vice-Chair are renewed every two and half years, so once at the start and once half-way through the 5-year legislative term. Current office-holders can be confirmed for a second mandate.

New Commission

During the month of June 2019 EP political groups are expected to start informal negotiations with the European Council on the next Commission President. The European Council will propose a candidate for this position to the European Parliament, taking into account the results of the Parliamentary elections.

At this stage, it is not certain whether the next Commission President will be the “lead candidate” (“Spitzenkandidat”) appointed by the EU party that wins the most seats in the European Parliament elections.

In a resolution adopted in plenary in February 2018, Parliament warned that it would reject any contender for EU Commission President who is not nominated as the “Spitzenkandidat” by their own EU party ahead of the 2019 EU elections. This was used for the first time in 2014, when the European People’s Party’s lead candidate Jean-Claude Juncker was appointed Commission President.

In contrast, at an informal meeting held on 23 February 2018, the EU 27 Heads of State and Government agreed that that the European Council could not guarantee in advance that it would propose one of the lead candidates for President of the European Commission.

In July, the new Parliament is expected to vote on the candidate proposed by the European Council as new Commission President in its plenary session. If the candidate does not obtain the required majority (half of the MEPs plus one), the European Council has one month to propose a new candidate to the European Parliament.

The approved candidate will then choose Vice Presidents and Commissioners based on the recommendation from Member States. Given the position of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy as a Vice-President of the Commission, the choice of a new High Representative will necessarily have to be made in conjunction with the selection of the other Commissioners.

In September, European Parliament’s Committees will organise a hearing of each commissioner-candidate responsible for their policy area(s). During these hearings, the candidates will explain their political priorities and answer MEPs questions.

The European Parliament must vote on the approval of the Commission as a whole. Therefore, it can threaten to veto the entire Commission if one or more candidates are not deemed suitable.

After the entire the Commission has been approved by the Parliament, they are formally appointed by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority. This is expected to take place in October, so that the new Commission can take office on 1 November.

European Council

The appointment of the Commission will be followed by the appointment of the new President of the European Council.

The European Council defines the European Union’s overall political direction and priorities. The President of the European Council chairs the European Council meetings and ensures the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council in cooperation with the President of the Commission and the Member States.

The President is appointed by qualified majority of the members of the European Council, for a period of two and half years renewable once. The appointment of the President is expected to take place between the months of October and November 2019.

The newly appointed European Council President will officially take office on 1 December 2019.

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