Press release: “The Spitzenkandidaten may have failed, but European democracy not yet: this Press release: Parliament can still define von der Leyen’s agenda”

In the wake of the package for the EU top jobs agreed by the EU Heads of State and Government in the European Council – and the collapse of the Spitzenkandidaten system-, the Young European Federalists [JEF Europe] sent a letter to the President of the European Parliament and the Presidents of the Groups in the European Parliament, urging them to take a firm stand on the proposed package. JEF Europe has also written to President-nominate for the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen.

JEF Europe maintains that the Lead Candidate (‘Spitzenkandidaten’) system improved European democracy, by allowing a genuine debate on the future of Europe. In its structure, however, the system has remained prey to the selfish national interests of Member States. If the European Parliament does not want to betray the trust of thousands of European voters, MEPs must insist on the renewal of European democracy.

“As Young European Federalists, we have written to President Sassoli to voice the discomfort of thousands of our volunteers, and many more citizens, across Europe. But we also offer a path to regain the trust of European citizens in EU institutions and European democracy as a whole. This mandate should be a ‘Constituent legislature’, tasked with empowering, protecting, and delivering for European citizens”, comments Christopher Glück, President of JEF Europe.

The three key policy issues that should be conditional for the approval of the European Council’s candidate for the Commission’s Presidency  are:

  1. A radical democratic reform of the Spitzenkandidaten process. The Spitzenkandidaten system cannot remain dependant on the good will of the European Council.  A reform of the system shall either establish the direct election of the Commission President through transnational lists, or give full power to the European Parliament to choose a candidate on the basis of a majority coalition.
  2. A fundamental reinforcement of the EU foreign, defence, and security policies. We call for a Europe that speaks with one coherent and comprehensive voice on the global scene and takes meaningful steps in that direction, protecting its citizens and its values in the world.
  3. Strengthening the EU’s capacity to deliver for its citizens. We need to focus on the build-up of European public goods, particularly in areas where the national level alone cannot deliver satisfactory solutions anymore. The EU requires new, environmentally-based own resources to finance such goods and deliver on citizens’ expectations.

Last, but not least, we recall that there can be no democracy where the Rule of Law is compromised. The next Commission and Parliament must credibly improve and enforce the Rule of Law framework at EU level. Just as importantly, for the EU to be truly democratic, it needs its own federal Constitution. The European Parliament must launch a process that will lead to the establishment of a European Constituent Assembly.

“Our proposals are ambitious, but they also offer a constructive alternative to backroom deals and business as usual. These elections are a mandate for change. We advise EU leaders to use such democratic mandate wisely”, concluded Glück.

— Download the letter —


About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO active with 13.000  members active in more than 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

More info

JEF Europe
European Secretariat
+32 2 512 00 53