On the 15 July 2014 Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker was elected as the President of the European Commission (EC) for the next legislative term. Mr. Juncker was elected following a 47-minute speech before a secret ballot, with 422 votes in favour (376 needed), 250 votes against, 47 abstentions and 10 void ballots.
For the first time in the history of the EU, the European Parliament elected - and not merely approved - the President of the European Commission following a proposal by the European Council. Mr. Junckers’ election did not come as a surprise given that the 3 traditionally big European groups (EPP, S&D and ALDE) had already announced their support beforehand. He was moreover one of the European Parliament’s own “Spitzenkandidaten” (top candidate).
Healthcare was mentioned once in Mr. Junckers’ statement, this in connection with the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP). He confirmed being in favour of completing this agreement, but emphasised the need for transparency in its process and in the negotiations. He added that while the agreement is important it cannot be completed at “any price”, and that Europe cannot give up our standards in health and social protection. The President-elect went on to say that he would not want data protection to be part of this deal.
Mr. Juncker, who will take office on the 1 November 2014, will be the first president of the European Commission who campaigned for the job during elections to the European Parliament and who hasn't been backed by all EU leaders. In the course of the hearing this morning the new President of the EC, set out the general guidelines the European Commission would follow in its next term if he were to be confirmed. In a strong pro-EU discourse he stressed that Europe must adopt based agenda of reform if we are to regain competiveness and espoused that the EC would take into account the strong message for change that the European population has sent. He stated that the new Commission is to become a pluralistic highly political body and that he hopes that the European Council would reflect this as well. Mr. Juncker furthermore declared that he would introduce a public and compulsory registration of lobbyists to ensure transparency , to show who is meeting who; a measure that he would also ask the other institutions to take.
In his statement, the Commissioner made several overtures to the European Parliaments political groups and spent a lot of time allaying the concerns of the Members of the S&D group, particularly on the need for more investments for growth, the fight against social dumping, the need for social dialogue and the importance of social welfare in the European Union. Additionally, he added that Europe needs fiscal discipline and real economic governance in addition to a renewed focus on sustainable renewable energy and tackling the challenges of climate change. These issues can be seen as an additional charm offensive towards the Greens and ALDE group.
The Commission President-elect will now send official letters to the member states' leaders inviting them to propose their candidate members of the Commission.