Emmanuel Macron keen to drive European Parliament reforms


French president Emmanuel Macron said he would seek to create his own political group of EU parliamentarians in elections in 2019 to help tear apart “incoherent” established parties plaguing the institution.

Answering questions on Tuesday, the French leader, who rose to the presidency by battling old parties at home, said an “ideological clarification” was needed in the EU parliament to help push ambitious reforms for the bloc in the next legislature.

“Europe would benefit from a political overhaul,” Mr Macron said. “There are currently within the big European political parties, [incoherencies] . . . There is room for a European reformism.”

After the EU elections, “it is totally possible to create your own group and assume that a European reformist group could rally other MPs”, he added.

Mr Macron has so far declined to align himself with any of the established political groupings in the EU parliament, contrary to the received wisdom that they are crucial for exerting influence in Brussels. On Tuesday, he cited MEPs’ rejection of a pan-EU list of candidates for the next elections — a proposal Paris had pushed hard — as a sign the old parties had become “rigid” and too focused on “defending vested interests”.

He suggested he would oppose giving the EU parliament a free hand in deciding who should replace Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president in 2019.

In 2014, Mr Juncker was appointed under the so-called Spitzenkandidaten nomination process, whereby the leader of the winning political force in elections to the EU parliament becomes the commission chief. This was viewed as a departure from treaties only stating that EU leaders have a duty to take into account the polls and the balance of political forces when deciding the nomination.

“I am in favour of respecting the treaties and the separations of powers,” Mr Macron said on Tuesday.

Asked whether he would welcome the nomination of a German candidate to replace Mario Draghi as head of the European Central Bank, Mr Macron insisted the issue was not about nationality but competence.

“I have one wish, that he be as competent as the current one.”

France, he pledged, would not push for a French candidate for the commission job but will issue one request: that he or she be “as forceful as possible” in carrying out reforms.

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