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Countdown to Dublin: who will be the EPP candidate?

11449097146_83a4e8dd2b_hIn 50 days time, the European Peoples Party will open its electoral congress in Dublin and select its common lead candidate for the European Parliament elections.

While the Socialists, Liberals, Greens and Left have all selected their lead candidates for the position of President of the European Commission (or at least have a selection process ongoing), the field for the EPP nomination is wide open. The EPP President, Joseph Daul, noted in December that there are about six people who are interested in the job.

So who are the contenders?

We have run the rule over the chances of a handful of potential centre-right candidates for the Commission presidency:

Jyrki Katainen Prime Minister of Finland
Michel Barnier European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services
Enda Kenny Prime Minister of Ireland
Jean-Claude Juncker former prime minister of Luxembourg
Christine Lagarde Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
Fredrik Reinfeldt Prime Minister of Sweden
Viviane Reding Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

[Note - 28 January 2014: Viviane Reding has stated that she will not participate in the contest, adding that there is 'no room for two Luxembourgers in the race' and expressing support for Jean-Claude Juncker.]

Other candidates may emerge too Valdis Dombrovskis, who resigned as Latvias prime minister in November has also been mentioned, as have Polands PM Donald Tusk (in spite of his clear statement that he will remain in Polish politics at least until the 2015 parliamentary elections) and Lithuanias President, Dalia Grybauskaitė.

And in our poll, you said by a small margin that Jean-Claude Juncker would be picked as the EPP candidate.

 

Jyrki Katainen

Read our profile of Jyrki Katainen

An established leader and member of the EPP hierarchy
Cautiously pro-European a possible counterpoint to more enthusiastic candidates from other parties
Speaks English and French in addition to Finnish and Swedish
International standing named best finance minister by the Financial Times in 2008
From a eurozone country
Manages a six-party coalition in Finland ideal experience for consensus politics in Brussels
Katainen
Possibly lacks public awareness across Europe, compared to other parties candidates
As with other serving PMs, it will be hard for him to campaign for another job without losing support nationally and with no guarantee of success
Only served one term as PM may prefer to run again in 2015, and his partys support in opinion polls is fairly steady
If Olli Rehn gets the ALDE Party nomination, will the EPP also want to select a Finn?


Michel Barnier

Read our profile of Michel Barnier

Knows Brussels and the Commission intimately
One of the leading centre-right authorities on EU affairs
Wants to be the candidate
Backed albeit slightly reluctantly by the UMP leadership
From a core EU country (in the eurozone, Schengen)
Is free to campaign likely to stand for the European Parliament and take leave of absence from Commission
Barnier
Does not fit the EPPs stated profile of a current or former prime minister
Will a Socialist French President want to name him as French commissioner? Lacks automatic national support if the results of the election are close
Wants to be the candidate but frontrunners often fall behind later
Christine Lagarde is another French candidate and she is backed by Angela Merkel
Not sufficiently well-known by the general European public?


Enda Kenny

Read our profile of Enda Kenny

Well-regarded in the EPP has high standing and will host the Congress in Dublin
Viewed positively in the light of the Irish Presidency in 2013
From a eurozone country and one that, under his leadership, has exited bailout programme
Heads a coalition in Ireland consensus-builder
A useful candidate in view of membership renegotiation talks with the UK?
Kenny
Has stated that he does not want the Commission job
Ireland is not part of the Schengen area
Lacks real language capabilities beyond native tongues
As with other serving PMs, it will be hard for him to campaign for another job without losing support nationally and with no guarantee of success
Would prefer the European Council job if he is to be lured away from Dublin?


Jean-Claude Juncker

Read our profile of Jean-Claude Juncker

Well established in the EPP and the EU (18 years as Luxembourgs PM, eight years as head of the Eurogroup)
Wants to be the candidate
From a core EU country (in the eurozone, Schengen)
Available to campaign
Would probably be backed by Luxembourgs Liberal-Socialist-Green government
His national political career ended only in partial failure his party topped the polls in the 2013 election
Knows all the ins and outs of Brussels
Enthusiastically pro-European
Juncker
Too federalist for the general European public and maybe even for some in the EPP?
A smoker and a bon viveur, his lifestyle has been questioned
Angela Merkel does not want him to be the candidate
Was passed over for the European Council presidency in 2009
Possibly seen as yesterdays man


Christine Lagarde

Read our profile of Christine Lagarde

Considerable international experience
Well-respected in Europe and globally
Is thought to be backed by Angela Merkel
Has admitted errors with Greece and austerity measures, and highlighted need to focus on youth unemployment making her slightly more acceptable to the left
From a core EU country (in the eurozone, Schengen)
Fluent in French and English
Opportunity to break another glass ceiling and be the first female Commission president
Lagarde
Ambiguous relationship with the UMP and the EPP will the EPP want a more established member of the EPP family?
Her comments on payback for Greece and the Lagarde list of tax evaders made her a controversial figure
Will other EPP (and EU) leaders want someone who is so close to Angela Merkel?
Has never held elected office making her a potential target for Eurosceptics and critics of a lack of democratic legitimacy in Europe
Will she be able to campaign while still being Managing Director of the IMF?
Michel Barnier is another French candidate, and he has UMP backing
More likely as a compromise candidate in the case of post-election deadlock?


Fredrik Reinfeldt

Read our profile of Fredrik Reinfeldt

Has served for eight years as the Conservative head of a traditionally social democratic country
Well regarded in the EPP
A useful candidate in view of membership renegotiation talks with the UK?
While he has not put himself forward, the Commission presidency may be a good parachute with Swedish elections due in September 2014 and the centre-right likely to lose
Is likely to be an acceptable candidate across the political spectrum if the EPP wins the elections
Viewed positively for the Swedish presidency in 2009 including how he managed the choice of key office-holders
Reinfeldt
As with other serving PMs, it will be hard for him to campaign for another job without losing support nationally and with no guarantee of success
Sweden is not part of the eurozone (although Reinfeldt favours Sweden joining the single currency and Nato)
Will more Christian Democratic parts of the EPP want to back a more cautious, Conservative candidate?
Will he be perceived negatively as fleeing a potential defeat in Sweden?


Viviane Reding

Read our profile of Viviane Reding

[Note - 28 January 2014: Viviane Reding has stated that she will not participate in the contest, adding that there is 'no room for two Luxembourgers in the race' and expressing support for Jean-Claude Juncker.]

Knows Brussels and the Commission intimately and is one of the Commission’s most prominent personalities has been a commissioner for 15 years
Strong public profile for a commissioner, thanks to successes such as the cap on roaming charges and interventions in EU debates
From a core EU country (in the eurozone, Schengen)
Is thought to want to be the candidate
Is free to campaign will stand for the European Parliament and take leave of absence from Commission
Speaks the Commissions three working languages (French, English, German)
Opportunity to be the first female Commission president
Reding
Does not fit the EPPs stated profile of a current or former prime minister
Does not appear to have widespread support
Her prominence, as well as her approach, has made enemies in the Commission and among national leaders
Has never held high office at a national level
Jean-Claude Juncker is a better-known candidate from Luxembourg

David OLeary - Burson-Marsteller Brussels

 

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  • sarosenberg

    * Juncker is a person responsible for the EURO establishment and its failure in monetary and fiscal order policy. He did not apologize to the citizens of europe about the mistakes they made when setting up the currency. All other persons responsible are now retired.
    * Reding is part of the EU inventory, she serves too long. Time for a change.
    * Barnier also already served as Commissioner.
    * Largarde is not a peoples tribune enough to fill the presidential role.

    * The others are feather weights

    What I am missing is a widely recognised personality as Prof Jerzy Buzek (PL) who always found the right terms as a Parliament President where Mme Ashton failed. I think he would make an excellent candidate for the EPP and he is a person I trust, who is moderate, well-mannered and educated.

    • Gavin Crowley

      They want a feather weight. Thats the point.

  • sarosenberg

    I may add, Ireland with its beggar thy neighbour policies and free havens for US software multinationals and wimp enforcement of data protection laws cant serve as a model because it lacks the EU solidarity. So count Kenny out.

    • Gavin Crowley

      Ireland does lack EU solidarity. I see no country that shows any sense of EU solidarity.
      Wimp enforcement of data protection Ill agree with.
      You wont be able to stand up the accusation of beggar thy neighbour or free haven(?) with facts.
      Count Kenny out because he wants a real job rather than be a puppet for 5 years.

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