Only weeks after a new European Parliament was elected in May 2014 for a five-year mandate, the European Council met in Brussels to designate the new President of the Commission and negotiate the content of the policy program to be implemented by the incoming Commission over the next five years. Since 2009, the Lisbon Treaty rules that the European Parliament has to vote, with a simple majority, to confirm the Council’s choice for the Commission. In the campaign preceding the May 2014 election, this step in the direction of a “more democratic” functioning of the European Union (EU) institutions was presented as a major innovation, and each of the main political groups in the European Parliament designated its champion for the election of the Commission’s President. This move was supposed to make stakes clearer for European citizens and to favor a debate over the policy platforms: as in all parliamentary democracies, voters would be called to choose a party, hence a candidate for the Commission’s presidency and a proposed set of policy orientations for the EU over the next five years. The outcome of the May election was not quite as expected: with very low voter participation in most EU member states and no clear majority in the newly elected Parliament, it would seem only natural that negotiations be conducted by the main political groups to form a coalition and define the roadmap for the new Commission. But is there any choice to be made with regard to EU common policies?
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