Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schultz during a November 2013 meeting
Photo: European Parliament
European elections: Luxembourg’s former prime minister is officially a contender to head the EU’s executive body.
Former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker has officially entered the race to head the European Commission. His candidacy papers were filed Thursday with the European People’s Party, of which Juncker’s CSV is a member, the umbrella group said in a statement.
Under new EU election rules, each political bloc nominates a head of ticket for May’s European Parliament elections, with the winning party alliance chief placed to head the EU executive body.
The EPP will select its head of ticket during a party congress on March 7 in Dublin.
Juncker faces former Latvian prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis for the EPP nomination. Some political analysts believe that France’s Michael Barnier, currently the European commissioner in charge of financial services, could enter the race before the submission deadline on March 5.
However, Juncker is already backed by the group’s largest German members, Angela Merkel’s CDU, and its Greek member party Nea Demokratia, the EPP statement said.
Juncker served as head of the Grand Duchy’s head of government from January 1995 to December 2013, and as head of the Eurogroup council of euro zone finance ministers from January 2005 to January 2013. Last year he called early elections following a scandal over mismanagement at Luxembourg’s intelligence service, which led to the current DP-LSAP-Green coalition government.
Socialist, liberal contenders
The EPP is the largest EU political bloc in the current European Parliament.
The second largest grouping, the Socialists and Democrats, of which Etienne Schneider’s LSAP is a member, have nominated Germany’s Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament.
The third largest bloc, the Liberals and Democrats, of which Xavier Bettel’s DP is a member, have put forward former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt.
The winning head of ticket will still need the agreement of the European council of government chiefs before being named commission president.
The new commission will take office on November 1.