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Datum objave: 21.06.2019

EU faces tense talks over top jobs in Brussels

European elections 2019: How does voting work?

EU faces tense talks over top jobs in Brussels

EU leaders are holding summit talks in Brussels aimed at deciding who will get the EU's top jobs and what to prioritise in the next five years.

European Council President Donald Tusk, chairing Thursday's talks, wants candidates to be named at this summit. Then the Council's choices require approval by the European Parliament.

The most powerful job is EU Commission president. Ex-Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker has held the post since 2014.

Brexit is not a major issue this time.

Climate change was a big issue in last month's European elections, but on Thursday the leaders failed to get unanimous agreement on a 2050 target date for going "carbon neutral".

France, Germany and the Netherlands were among a large group of states urging the EU to set that goal. It means reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a level where they are balanced by green initiatives, such as tree planting.

Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants, opposed it. They are worried about the financial cost of shifting to green energy.

An EU official said the date was therefore relegated to a footnote, which says: "For a large majority of member states, climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050."

EU leaders face pressure to deliver on climate change

Who will replace European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker?

t is all change at the heart of the EU, and the key role of Commission president is up for grabs as Jean-Claude Juncker prepares to pass the baton at the end of October. But who will take his place?

May elections have left the European Parliament more fragmented and the chances of reaching consensus more difficult.

Heavyweights France and Germany have already clashed over the role, which includes proposing new European laws and providing political guidance.

So who is in the running, based on what we know so far? There are official candidates - and some who are not yet candidates at all.

The 46-year-old Bavarian, whose candidacy has been endorsed by prominent leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, has served as leader of the European People's Party (EPP) since 2014.

EU's big two divided over Brussels' top job

Against: The EPP may be the biggest grouping in Parliament but it has lost ground in the elections and Mr Weber will have to secure the support of other groups if he is to win.

French President Emmanuel Macron has shown no indication of his support for Mr Weber, and with environmental issues coming to the fore and a surge in Green MEPs elected in May, it will not help that his centre-right colleagues have been accused of voting against climate change measures.

What he says: He spoke recently about the importance of strengthening security across the bloc and the need to protect the "European way of life". In a Twitter post in November, which featured a promotional video, he wrote: "Here and everywhere else people are asking us to bring Europe back home."

He has promised to appoint a commissioner to oversee a new relationship with Africa to help control migration to Europe, and has said that future trade deals with other countries should include clauses banning child labour.

For: A big name in Danish politics, Ms Vestager has spent the past five years as competition commissioner, spearheading EU anti-trust investigations that have ended in big fines for technology giants Google and Apple.

Her battle to protect consumers and make large firms pay earned her the wrath of US President Donald Trump last year, who is reported to have told Mr Juncker following news of the hefty fines: "Your tax lady, she really hates the US."

Against: Ms Vestager is certainly causing a buzz and the Liberal ALDE group gained ground in the elections, partly thanks to the arrival of President Macron's party. But the Liberals have fielded a slate of seven candidates for the EU job, and one Commission colleague says her choice is out of the question as she was not even a lead candidate.

What she says: "I have worked with breaking monopolies. This is also what voters have been doing. The monopoly of power is broken," she declared after the elections that broke the majority of the two big centre-right and centre-left blocs in the European Parliament.

Candidates spar for European Commission president job

The candidates to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission have clashed in a televised debate broadcast across the EU.

It was part of the spitzenkandidat - or "lead candidate" - process, where contenders for the role are put forward by the pan-European groups of like-minded political parties in the European Parliament.

Each applicant has to be running in the European elections which will be held on 23-26 May.

The job comes with a staff of more than 30,000, a seat at summits of EU leaders and the right to propose new European laws.

The concept was tried for the first time in 2014. It is meant to make the appointment seem more democratic by putting the winner through something resembling an election campaign.

A really simple guide to the European elections

European elections 2019: How does voting work?

Parliament elections, in one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world. So how do you hold a vote in 28 different countries under a whole host of different rules?

In the last election in 2014, 168,818,151 people took part, with a turnout of just over 40%, and five million ballots were spoiled.

That makes it bigger than the US presidential vote, though not even close to the size of India's election, which is the largest.

This year's elections are taking place over four days with three voting systems, but it all comes together thanks to a set of common principles- and the willingness of member states to tweak their national election rules to suit.

Here's how it all works.

When is the vote?

Voting takes place across three days, depending on where the election is being held.

23 May: Netherlands, UK

24 May: Ireland, Czech Republic (which has two-day voting also on 25 May)

25 May: Latvia, Malta, Slovakia

26 May: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden

Voting times vary from country to country, in line with local customs. And each country elects a different number of MEPs, roughly in line with their population – so France (74) and the UK (73) have more seats than Ireland (11) or Latvia (8).

And for some, voting is compulsory so there's no escape - in Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, and Luxembourg.

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For European renewal

Citizens of Europe,

If I am taking the liberty of addressing you directly, it is not only in the name of the history and values that unite us. It is because time is of the essence. In a few weeks’ time, the European elections will be decisive for the future of our continent.

Never, since the Second World War, has Europe been as essential. Yet never has Europe been in so much danger.

Brexit stands as the symbol of that. It symbolises the crisis of Europe, which has failed to respond to its peoples’ needs for protection from the major shocks of the modern world. It also symbolises the European trap. The trap is not being part of the European Union. The trap is in the lie and the irresponsibility that can destroy it. Who told the British people the truth about their post-Brexit future? Who spoke to them about losing access to the European market? Who mentioned the risks to peace in Ireland of restoring the former border? Nationalist retrenchment offers nothing; it is rejection without an alternative. And this trap threatens the whole of Europe: the anger mongers, backed by fake news, promise anything and everything.

We have to stand firm, proud and lucid, in the face of this manipulation and say first of all what Europe is. It is a historic success: the reconciliation of a devastated continent in an unprecedented project of peace, prosperity and freedom. We should never forget that. And this project continues to protect us today. What country can act on its own in the face of aggressive strategies by the major powers? Who can claim to be sovereign, on their own, in the face of the digital giants? How would we resist the crises of financial capitalism without the euro, which is a force for the entire European Union? Europe is also those thousands of projects daily that have changed the face of our regions: the school refurbished, the road built, and the long-awaited arrival of high-speed Internet access. This struggle is a daily commitment, because Europe, like peace, can never be taken for granted. I tirelessly pursue it in the name of France to take Europe forward and defend its model. We have shown that what we were told was unattainable, the creation of a European defence capability and the protection of social rights, was in fact possible.

Yet we need to do more and sooner, because there is the other trap: the trap of the status quo and resignation. Faced with the major crises in the world, citizens so often ask us, “Where is Europe? What is Europe doing?” It has become a soulless market in their eyes. Yet Europe is not just a market. It is a project. A market is useful, but it should not detract from the need for borders that protect and values that unite. The nationalists are misguided when they claim to defend our identity by withdrawing from Europe, because it is the European civilisation that unites, frees and protects us. But those who would change nothing are also misguided, because they deny the fears felt by our peoples, the doubts that undermine our democracies. We are at a pivotal moment for our continent, a moment when together we need to politically and culturally reinvent the shape of our civilisation in a changing world. It is the moment for European renewal. Hence, resisting the temptation of isolation and divisions, I propose we build this renewal together around three ambitions: freedom, protection and progress.

 Defend our freedom

The European model is based on the freedom of man and the diversity of opinions and creation. Our first freedom is democratic freedom: the freedom to choose our leaders as foreign powers seek to influence our vote at each election. I propose creating a European Agency for the Protection of Democracies, which will provide each Member State with European experts to protect their election process against cyber attacks and manipulation. In this same spirit of independence, we should also ban the funding of European political parties by foreign powers. We should have European rules banish all incitements to hate and violence from the Internet, since respect for the individual is the bedrock of our civilisation of dignity.

 Protect our continent

Founded on internal reconciliation, the European Union has forgotten to look at the realities of the world. Yet no community can create a sense of belonging if it does not have bounds that it protects. The boundary is freedom in security. We therefore need to rethink the Schengen area: all those who want to be part of it should comply with obligations of responsibility (stringent border controls) and solidarity (one asylum policy with the same acceptance and refusal rules). We will need a common border force and a European asylum office, strict control obligations and European solidarity to which each country will contribute under the authority of a European Council for Internal Security. On the issue of migration, I believe in a Europe that protects both its values and its borders.

The same standards should apply to defence. Substantial progress has been made in the last two years, but we need to set a clear course: a treaty on defence and security should define our fundamental obligations in association with NATO and our European allies: increased defence spending, a truly operational mutual defence clause, and the European Security Council with the United Kingdom on board to prepare our collective decisions.

Our borders also need to guarantee fair competition. What power in the world would accept continued trade with those who respect none of their rules? We cannot suffer in silence. We need to reform our competition policy and reshape our trade policy with penalties or a ban in Europe on businesses that compromise our strategic interests and fundamental values such as environmental standards, data protection and fair payment of taxes; and the adoption of European preference in strategic industries and our public procurement, as our American and Chinese competitors do.

 Recover the spirit of progress

Europe is not a second-rank power. Europe in its entirety is a vanguard: it has always defined the standards of progress. In this, it needs to drive forward a project of convergence rather than competition: Europe, where social security was created, needs to introduce a social shield for all workers, east to west and north to south, guaranteeing the same pay in the same workplace, and a minimum European wage appropriate to each country and discussed collectively every year.

Getting back on track with progress also concerns spearheading the ecological cause. Will we be able to look our children in the eye if we do not also clear our climate debt? The European Union needs to set its target – zero carbon by 2050 and pesticides halved by 2025 – and adapt its policies accordingly with such measures as a European Climate Bank to finance the ecological transition, a European food safety force to improve our food controls and, to counter the lobby threat, independent scientific assessment of substances hazardous to the environment and health. This imperative needs to guide all our action: from the Central Bank to the European Commission, from the European budget to the Investment Plan for Europe, all our institutions need to have the climate as their mandate.

Progress and freedom are about being able to live from your work: Europe needs to look ahead to create jobs. This is why it needs not only to regulate the digital giants by putting in place European supervision of the major platforms (prompt penalties for unfair competition, transparent algorithms, etc.), but also to finance innovation by giving the new European Innovation Council a budget on a par with the United States in order to spearhead new technological breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence.

A world-oriented Europe needs to look towards Africa, with which we should enter into a covenant for the future, taking the same road and ambitiously and non-defensively supporting African development with such measures as investment, academic partnerships and education for girls.

Freedom, protection and progress. We need to build European renewal on these pillars. We cannot let nationalists without solutions exploit the people’s anger. We cannot sleepwalk through a diminished Europe. We cannot become ensconced in business as usual and wishful thinking. European humanism demands action. And everywhere, the people are standing up to be part of that change. So by the end of the year, let’s set up, with the representatives of the European institutions and the Member States, a Conference for Europe in order to propose all the changes our political project needs, with an open mind, even to amending the treaties. This conference will need to engage with citizens’ panels and hear academics, business and labour representatives, and religious and spiritual leaders. It will define a roadmap for the European Union that translates these key priorities into concrete actions. There will be disagreement, but is it better to have a static Europe or a Europe that advances, sometimes at different paces, and that is open to all?

In this Europe, the peoples will really take back control of their future. In this Europe, the United Kingdom, I am sure, will find its true place.

Citizens of Europe, the Brexit impasse is a lesson for us all. We need to escape this trap and make the upcoming elections and our project meaningful. It is for you to decide whether Europe and the values of progress that it embodies are to be more than just a passing episode in history. This is the choice I propose: to chart together the road to European renewal.

Emmanuel Macron

Kategorije: Društvo
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