The European People’s Party (EPP) Presidency reconfirms its strong support for the Spitzenkandidaten process ahead of the 2019 European elections and calls on the European Council to continue backing this democratic advance which brings the EU closer to its citizens.

On 7-8 November 2018, the EPP will elect, in accordance with its statutes, its Spitzenkandidat through an open, transparent and democratic selection procedure at the EPP Congress in Helsinki, Finland. The EPP was the first European political party to nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission in 2009; this time again, the EPP is the first to have launched its election campaign, with a concrete date for electing the Spitzenkandidat.

We call on other European political parties to come forward as well with a concrete date in 2018 for designating their candidate for the position of EU Commission president. Candidates for the Commission Presidency must outline their vision for the future of the EU, parallel to the European Parliament elections. All pro-European political parties must take responsibility and give voters a choice in electing the next head of the European Commission. Following the voters’ choice, that European political party which receives the most seats in the 2019 elections for the European Parliament should be allowed to place its candidate at the helm of the European Commission, provided that candidate can then form a majority in the European Parliament.

We cannot reverse the democratic course; on the contrary, we must build on the success achieved in 2014. The ‘lead candidate’ procedure increases the EU’s democratic legitimacy, makes the European Commission more accountable and generates pan-European debate across our Union. It also strengthens the relationship between the three EU institutions and improves the efficiency of their work.

The EPP, therefore, strongly believes that the European Council must follow the recommendations of the European Commission and of the European Parliament: e.g., by choosing the next Commission president from among those candidates nominated by the European political parties, by making the link between national and European parties visible on the ballot papers and by promoting debates between lead candidates via all national media channels across the EU. The Spitzenkandidaten process is not only about making the EU more democratic; it’s also about reconnecting the EU with its citizens. The European Council’s support remains central in building bridges and reaching out to Europeans.

The EPP Presidency also asks the Heads of State and Government to hold a constructive debate on the scenarios put forward by the European Commission regarding the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), in view of the forthcoming proposal by Commissioner Oettinger. A swift decision on a solid and efficient EU budget at the beginning of 2019 is necessary to make the EU deliver in those areas in which the EU needs to become stronger, such as the protection of external borders, security or Europe’s digital transformation, while continuing with the successful policies that enhance the lives of EU citizens.