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Hans-Gert Pöttering

The EPP ‘Convention Group’ convened for numerous coordination meetings ahead of the Convention’s meetings and also organised five study days to focus in detail on the drafting of a constitutional text. The Convention Group also elected a Praesidium which met before each meeting of the Convention’s Presidency. Thanks to the close cooperation initiated by the EPP, the Convention Group fostered an excellent mutual understanding and, above all, a common political line between the representatives of the EPP Group and the representatives appointed by the national governments and parliaments. Due to the united stance of the Convention Group members in the constitutional assembly, large parts of the original document adopted in Estoril are reproduced in the current draft constitution. Electing the Commission President A further example of new and successful approaches to cooperation between the EPP-ED Group and the EPP was their influence over the election of the Commission President in 2004. The nomination in 1999 of Romano Prodi, a Liberal, by the heads of state and government, in a process which did not involve the European Parliament and ignored the outcome of the European elections, conflicted with the EPP political family’s endeavours to make the decision-making processes in the European institutions more democratic and transparent. In the EPP’s view, peoples’ votes in the European elections should also be able to influence the nomination of the Commission President and thus the direction taken by the European Commission. The Commission President should come from the political family that won the European elections. The need to reflect Europe’s political landscape in the appointment of the new Commission after European elections was widely recognised. The EPP members of the Convention also lobbied successfully for the draft Constitution to contain

a clause stating that the results of the elections to the European Parliament must be taken into account in the nomination of the candidate for the Commission Presidency. This demand is now reflected in Article I-27 of the draft Constitution. At its Congress in Brussels in February 2004 before the European elections, the EPP also endorsed a resolution tabled by the EPP-ED Group insisting that the June 2004 European Council respected the spirit of this article. However, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac ignored the demand presented by the EPP and proposed Belgium’s Liberal Party Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt as their favoured candidate for the top post in Brussels. Both the EPP and the Group mobilised substantial opposition to this ‘go-it-alone’ approach, and the Group took advantage of its links to Europe’s political leadership. Representatives of the Party and the Group had one-on-one conversations in which they were able to persuade leading figures in the EPP family to support the EPP’s solid case. As a result, at meetings held in advance of the Summit, a number of key politicians openly refused to support Guy Verhofstadt’s candidacy. The EPP Summit of Heads of Government and Party Leaders, customarily held the day before the European Council meeting, offered both the Party and the Group the best opportunity to influence the election process of the Commission President. The meeting in Meise, attended by ten heads of government from the EPP party family, was the appropriate forum in which to agree on a joint approach. At the Meise meeting, as the Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, I emphasised our political family’s demand that, because of our success in the European elections, the Commission President must come from the EPP family. United behind this common goal, the delegates attending the EPP Summit in Meise agreed to nominate their own candidate for the post of Commission President. On June 17, 2004, just

Volume 3 - Spring 2006

117

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy  

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy  

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy

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