Just 30 days before the European elections, Jean-Claude Juncker warned EU governments to respect who voters choose as European Commission president.
Juncker is the centre-right EPP’s candidate for president.
Until now, the person for the top job was chosen behind closed doors by prime ministers and presidents after parliamentary elections. The European Parliament could then vote yes or no to the choice.
This time, voters will get a say in who gets the EU’s top job with main European parties naming their candidate for president for the first time.
“The candidate of the political group that will be the strongest after the European Parliament elections will become the next Commission president.” Juncker told a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
“Anything else would make a mockery of the democratic process that is now explicitly foreseen in the Treaty.”
Juncker also laid out his party’s priorities. Economic growth and employment top the list as well as energy and reform of the monetary union.
The 59-year-old dismissed concerns that his party would do badly in southern countries where it is linked to austerity measures, saying: “I meet the Greeks when I am abroad, when I am in Greece. I was in Porto in Portugal. I spoke with those protesting against me coming, so I’m not afraid of ordinary citizens. Politicians shouldn’t be afraid of the people or indeed vice versa.”
Juncker will have the chance to put this to the test during a whistle stop tour of Europe starting on Thursday, taking in 28 countries before the elections at the end of May.