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The Spitzenkandidat process must go on, say Socialists and Democrats to EU leaders


Public Affairs
The Socialists and Democrats want a more democratic Europe. They call on EU leaders to keep the so-called Spitzenkandidat system for the 2019 European elections, which gives EU citizens a say on the choice of the president of the Commission. 
Responding to the European Commission’s proposal on electoral reform presented today by Jean-Claude Juncker, acting S&D Group leader Udo Bullmann and PES leader Sergei Stanishev said: 
“We are determined not to turn the clock back. The Socialists and Democrats are strong supporters of the Spitzenkandidat process, which we originally launched in 2009. Its relevance has certainly not declined. Europe urgently needs a new vision, one that provides clear guidance on how to master the transition to a model of sustainable development in times of growing economic, social, and environmental imbalances that currently remain unaddressed. This requires political families to send clear messages to voters in consistent and truly European campaigns. The Spitzenkandidat model is crucial in building this new and much needed European political project. 
"By presenting a European leading candidate for the European elections, we give EU citizens the chance to have a say on who becomes the president of the European Commission. This represents a major step forward in strengthening European democracy.
“We generally support the improvements proposed by the Commission, including the idea of selecting the Spitzenkandidat through an open and democratic process, broader electoral campaigns and a larger broadcast of the debates between leading candidates. It is also clear that the winner of the election must be the candidate who is able to command a majority in the European Parliament.
“And we will continue to condemn all backlashes against a stronger European democracy. Last week's conservative-led majority in the European Parliament’s plenary against the introduction of transnational lists in the European election was a low point in this respect.
“We certainly want a more democratic Europe; but, like millions of EU citizens, we also expect the EU to deliver on the most pressing global challenges such as climate change, rising social and economic inequalities, and migration. The EU must have the financial means to take on its duties, especially at a time when Donald Trump’s administration is disengaging itself from the world stage.
“That is why we are calling on EU governments to adopt a strong and ambitious multiannual budget post 2020 that enables the EU to become the engine of sustainable development in Europe and the world.
“Let’s be clear, new priorities such as those in the areas of defence or migration will have to be funded with additional financial means. We will not accept endangering solidarity between regions and member states for the sake of saving money. The financing of the EU budget is outdated. It now depends too much on national contributions. The introduction of new EU own resources is paramount to provide fairer and more stable EU finances. We need to provide Europe with the financial resources to act, or we risk creating even more disillusionment among our citizens.”
Note to the editor
The S&D Group will hold an event on democratic participation in the upcoming 2019 European Parliament elections at the College of Europe, Bruges on 22 February.
The full programme and details on how to register are available here
The event is part of the #EuropeTogether campaign, which aims at bringing European politics closer to citizens. The campaign brings together politicians, academics, civil society and citizens to debate and come up with new proposals for the future of Europe. You can follow the debates on Twitter using #EuropeTogether or on the dedicated #EuropeTogether platform.