Job Alert – European Elections: the Race is on

The race for lead candidates in the European Parliament – and thus eventually for the job of the European Commission’s president – is on: after EPP chair Manfred Weber announced to run, it becomes clear that the French conservatives would like to see “Mr Brexit” Michel Barnier in this position. The Social Democrats are also getting ready: Slovakia’s EU Energy Commissioner Maros Sefkovic announced his bid, as well as probably more surprisingly, Austrian ex-chancellor Christian Kern.

More candidates will still emerge and their quality hopefully is a signal to take EU politics, and especially the looming political realities seriously: the nationalist climate across EU member states and no or low minimum thresholds for the European Parliament elections in the various countries are likely to lead to an even more diverse, and both far-right and far-left, parliament. More than ever, strong and leading moderate voices are needed.

Poland and Hungary demonstrate what happens without moderate voices. The European Commission has now taken Poland to the European Court of Justice over its judicial reform, whilst the Open Society Foundation has addressed the European Court of Human Rights in a case against Hungary and its law against civil society organisations.

Still looking for pre-judicial solutions, however over-confidently, is Theresa May, who just had to accept another blow from the EU Heads of State: her most recent Brexit proposal did not go down well and has apparently stretched the EU’s patience too far: diplomacy at the recent Salzburg summit went over board, words are getting harsher and very clear – Theresa May’s chair is now shaking back in the UK, but there is still no light at the end of the Brexit tunnel.

Another shaking chair is of great concern for EU politics: Germany’s Angela Merkel faces strong criticism over her handling of a domestic scandal. Hans-Georg Maaßen, Head of Germany’s domestic security agency (“Bundesverfassungsschutz”) had questioned media reports of hunts on foreigners after a nationalist demonstration in Chemnitz, which had left one participant dead. Whilst the facts remain to be investigated, Maaßen was forced to resign – and given a prestigious new position with a higher salary. After heaviest protest from the public and the coalition partner, this decision has now been revised again. Merkel remains in a showdown with her interior minister (who keeps backing Maaßen) and slowly but surely with her party that set an extraordinary signal: the German conservative parliamentary group just voted down its long-standing chair and Merkel-ally.

If you are interested to engage in and not just watch EU election moves, now is the time to join the game. Find some jobs and as usual more on!

Irina Michalowitz

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27. September 2018