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Top four EU jobs are up for grabs

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Monday, 10 March 2014

Top four EU jobs are up for grabs

It is all change at the top this year for the European Union, kicking off with May elections for the European Parliament followed by the naming in July of a new speaker.
In November, EU leaders will appoint a new president of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, when its five-year mandate ends, as well as a new chair of the bloc's political wing, the European Council. In addition, the 28 member states must replace Catherine Ashton at the European External Action Service, which was set up in 2009 to co-ordinate EU foreign policy and has become one of the bloc's most high-profile roles. Here is what is at stake as well as the favourites to win the posts...
The speaker, officially known as president of the Parliament, is elected in each new assembly as MEPs work out their groupings and alliances in what can be a protracted period of bargaining.
There are no candidates or favourites at this stage as the outcome will depend on the results of the EU-wide May 22-25 election for 751 seats. But one name often cited is former Belgium premier Guy Verhofstadt, the outspoken head of the centrist Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) but who is also cited as a possible runner for European Commission chief. Seats will be contested by more than a dozen political groups, led by the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the largest in the outgoing assembly.
They are closely followed by the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), centrist group ALDE and the Greens, the environmentalist voice in Parliament. This is the first Parliament election since the 2009 Lisbon Treaty came into force sharply increasing the assembly's powers, especially with the provision that EU member state leaders must now take into account the results of the May vote when choosing the next head of the European Commission. Parliament - the EU's only directly-elected institution - must also approve their nomination.

Source: IOL.co.za