EU heads of state and government are meeting tonight to discuss the results of the European Parliament elections. Leaders will be digesting the results of the vote, including increasing support for Eurosceptic and anti-establishment parties, at an “informal dinner” in Brussels. The agenda, however, will likely be dominated by wrangling over who is to be the next President of the European Commission.
Under new rules introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, EU leaders must “take into account” the result of the European elections when deciding who to nominate as Commission President. The European Council will decide upon a candidate by a (qualified majority) vote after first consulting with representatives of the European Parliament.
Once a candidate has been officially proposed by EU heads of state and government, the European Parliament then votes to either confirm or reject the nomination. Should the Council’s candidate not obtain the required majority in the Parliament, the Council will then be forced to propose a different candidate within one month. This veto potentially gives the European Parliament a powerful voice in negotiations over who will be appointed Commission chief.
We’ve put together an infographic outlining the expected process over the coming weeks. If everything proceeds smoothly, the next commission could be inaugurated in November (the mandate of the current commission ends on 31 October). Traditionally, however, negotiations have dragged on later than that, and it could be early 2015 before the new commission begins its work.