How to elect the next President of the European Commission

Following the European Parliament electionswhich occurred between 6 and 9 June 2024one of the next tasks of the European Union will be theelection of the President of the European Commission, the institution that coordinates and directs the entire organization. The President of the Commission is proposed by the European Council and must be approved by the European Parliament, which has the right to reject the Council's proposal and propose another name. Today the European Councilmade up of the 27 heads of state of the member countries, will meet informally to also discuss this appointment, which could be formalized between 27 and 28 June, during the first official meeting of the Council. The definitive date for electing the person who will hold the position will however be later and could take place during the first inaugural session of the new European Parliament, that is between 16 and 19 July 2024. The European Parliament will in fact have to vote and possibly approve the proposal from the Council.

During the mandate 2019-2024 the role of President of the European Commission was held by the German Ursula von der Leyen, part of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and, within the European Parliament, of the European People's Party (EPP). She currently appears to be the most likely candidate to hold this position for the second time. To be re-elected, Von der Leyen will need them 361 minimum votes on 720 of the European Parliament and currently has the support of the majority, made up of European People's Party (190 parliamentarians), Socialists & Democrats (136) and Renew Europe (80).

Before the European elections, the Croatian Prime Minister had also been linked to the role of candidate for the leadership of the Commission Andrej Plenkovićthe President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola and the former President of the Italian Council and of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi.

Composition of the European Parliament after the elections of 6-9 June 2024. Data updated as of 14/06/2024. Source: European Parliament,

The mechanism for electing the President

There appointment of the President of the European Commission is governed by'art. 17 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). After the elections to the European Parliament, the European Councilby qualified majority, proposes the person to nominate as President of the Commission.

The European Parliament then decides by majority whether to approve or reject the Council's proposal. In case of negative opinionthe Council will have to propose, within a month, another candidate. After the investiture, the President begins consultations to search for the most suitable people to fill the role of Commissioners. The members of the Commission are then presented with a qualified majority by the European Council in agreement with the new President of the Commission European ParliamentThat must finally approve the entire Commission, reserving the power to hold hearings on individual candidates.

What is the European Commission

There European Commission it is one of the main institutions of the European Union and plays a role similar, in some ways, to that of the government of a state. It was officially born with its current name in 1967, coordinates community policy, holds the power of legislative initiative and manages the EU structural funds. It is a'entity independent of the states and therefore does not respond to individual national governments.

It is considered as the center of executive power of the EU, is led by a President or President and is made up of 27 commissionersas many as there are member countries, including theEU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Affairs who is also the vice president of the European Commission.

Like the European Parliament, the European Commission remains in office with a 5 year mandate, with the appointment of the commissioners and the President taking place after each renewal of the European Parliament. Unlike the European Parliament, however, it is not a body elected directly by the citizens of the states that belong to the European Union.

Berlaymont Palace, headquarters of the European Commission, Brussels. Source: EmDee

The powers and functions of the President of the EU Commission

The President of the European Commission it is he or she who gives theorientation and political direction of the Commission and decides its internal organization to give coherence and effectiveness to its action. Represents furthermore the Commission in European Council meetingsin the international summits such as the G7 and G20, and in debates within the other EU institutions.

Presidenttogether with the commissioners, approves its own internal regulation and divides the various sectors of activity between the various commissioners, through consultations with national governments.
All candidates for the Presidency of the European Commission, together with the High Representative and the commissioners, will have to submit to the vote of the European Parliament, by majority of the votes cast. Once elected, they will be formally appointed by the European Council by qualified majority.

Before continuing, let's clarify what is meant by this expression. When within the EU we talk about a “qualified majority” (or “double majority”) we mean a majority achieved only if and when they are satisfied two conditions: 55% of Member States vote in favor (15 out of 27 member states) and these same states represent at least the 65% of the total EU population.

Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission in the 2019–2024 mandate. Source: Wikimedia Commons