European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has criticized the process for nominating his successor, Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, comparing it unfavorably to his own.
“The process was not very transparent,” Juncker told a news conference in Helsinki on Friday when asked for comments on the selection of von der Leyen and others for top EU jobs in a torturous three-day negotiation. “But the process that led to my nomination in 2014 was very transparent.”
The difference is that Juncker’s candidacy was first put forward by the European People’s Party (EPP) and the nomination came with the party’s victory in the European Parliament election that year. This process is known under the German term ‘Spitzenkandidat’.
“Unfortunately it didn’t become a tradition,” Junker said. “I am a very unique guy. I was the first and the last Spitzenkandidat.”
Candidacy for the EU’s highest executive job is selected by the European Council, a collective of heads of member states. Since 2009, the nomination is supposed to be done with the results of the previous parliamentary election taken into account. In 2014, the council agreed to nominate Junker, who was picked by the EPP before the election in a sort of primary election.
Some people say this process is still not democratic enough, and that the highest executive office in the EU should be filled through a direct general election.
Von der Leyen, who is currently serving as German Defense Minister, was nominated the old-fashioned consensus way after protracted negotiations at the European Council. She and other candidates for top positions are yet to be confirmed by the European Parliament.