Minister doesn’t support EU Commission selection system
European Union – Interview given by Mme Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to CNews (excerpts)
Brussels, 20 June 2019
Q. – Who is France’s candidate – there must be one, presumably – to replace Mr Juncker as Commission President?
THE MINISTER – We have one requirement, namely for this afternoon’s discussions to be fruitful. The heads of state and government are currently talking about the climate, security, borders and migration – in short, about our ambition for the next five years. And on the basis of this in-depth discussion, there will indeed be talk at dinner this evening about who the Commission President could be.
One thing is certain: that the Spitzenkandidaten, the system supposed to select such-and-such a candidate virtually automatically to lead the Commission – in this case Manfred Weber, because he had a majority, or at any rate the largest number of seats in the European Parliament – this system, as we can see, isn’t automatic; we didn’t like it in terms of the very idea of respect for democracy and the ballot box.
I think that this evening we’re going to see that Manfred Weber has no majority in the Parliament and probably in the Council. The whole job now is to build a solution which commands consensus, which can bring the Parliament together, not to rally around a name or a flag but rather to rally around someone who has the skills and experience to further the road map currently being discussed, to have strong climate ambition, to have strong ambition to protect citizens, to have a strong social Europe – in short, to produce concrete results that help people. For that, we need someone who has those qualities. It [a solution] has yet to be built.
Q. – (…) Is Emmanuel Macron in a position of strength? After all, those attacks by Nathalie Loiseau against La République en Marche’s potential allies in the Renew group have weakened the President. Is he weakened today?
THE MINISTER – I don’t think the President has been weakened. Since this morning, he’s met six heads of state and government; since this morning, he’s been there defending the content of the campaign – which took place in France and elsewhere – of what is now the Parliament’s centrist group. Yesterday, that group elected Dacian Cioloş as its leader; he’s a former commissioner and comes from Romania. He’s been prime minister of his country, he’s got an extremely interesting vision, both progressive and also very rooted in the regions. Today we’re fully capable of continuing, not to carry influence attached to our flag, but to carry fundamental influence.
What matters is that our ideas progress, not with nationalistic aims; the goal isn’t to work solely for the French people, it’s to work for Europeans, and so be at the service of what French and European people voted for.
As you know, the great difference today is that the European right and left no longer have an absolute majority together in the European Parliament. This means that the centrist group has a role to play; it means that the Greens have a role to play. What we’re trying to do is ensure that the individual promotes the project, and the project itself reflects the elections, which profoundly changed the political landscape.
This is why it’s perhaps taking a bit longer than usual, but it’s because the European elections sent a strong message: that people want a different Europe, and so we’re trying to organize this Europe so that it’s different, not just in terms of appointments, but in the actual project it promotes./.