UK left out of campaign for EU's top job

Martin Schulz press conference in Brussels, 7 May 14 Socialist Martin Schulz is not including the UK on his campaign itinerary

The candidates debate in English. Their press conferences are in English. Their entourages spin speeches in English. But England (as well as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) barely features in their campaign battle plans.

While the five contenders hoping to be the next European Commission president munch up road and air miles campaigning across Europe the UK is ignored, written out of the script. An omission that says a lot.

A quick recap: With two weeks to go until the European elections, the contest to run the EU Commission is heating up - from a frosty start. These are the people picked by the party groups in the European Parliament to be their nomination for EU Commission President - the most important job in Brussels.

Based on their reading of the Lisbon Treaty, MEPs believe they now have the right to pick the next president. That's why we're seeing this contest. For the first time the main party groups have picked one candidate to be the figurehead of their election campaigns. They say the candidate of the group with the most MEPs after the election will become the next Commission president.

But you won't see them on the stump in the UK. Martin Schulz, the centre-left's candidate and current president of the European Parliament, bluntly told a press conference on Wednesday: "I will not go to the UK to campaign".

He did pop to Belfast for a day last month to meet the moderate nationalist SDLP, but that's it.

Even though the Labour Party are part of Mr Schulz's group he won't be seen clasping hands with party leader Ed Miliband in a town centre near you.

UK debate different

The centre-right European People's Party candidate Jean-Claude Juncker won't be visiting the UK either, although that's less of a surprise because David Cameron took the Conservative Party out of the EPP a few years ago.

Only the Liberal candidate Guy Verhofstadt might put in an appearance - at the Oxford Union. But his office says that might slip too.

So while this contest to be Commission president rolls through Europe, gaining some attention from voters and hacks, it's invisible in Britain.

After the Schulz press conference I spoke to one of his team and asked him why the snub? And it turns out the Labour Party has not invited Martin Schulz over. The aide explained the UK European election campaign is unlike any other in Europe. It is entirely framed by domestic politics, with the added spice of an argument over Britain's future membership of the EU.

Commission candidates unknown in Britain are not considered useful soldiers in the British political ground war. The UK's semi-detached place in Europe and the EU's weary endurance of Britain doing things differently are symbolised by the absence of Commission candidates on the other side of the Channel.


More on This Story


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    This is the first time I have actually read or heard anything about the race to replace Mr. Baroso on UK media.

    Fortunately, I watch Euronews and German stations, and am better informed as a result.

    Another example of the lamentable standard of European news coverage from all UK media I'm afraid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    There's precious little excitement about this in the rest of the EU, none of the candidates are what you would call attention grabbers, Junckers seems the least objectionable.

    Funny that for all the claims of the EU being an all powerful unaccountable monster it only seems to attract Z-List politicians, if this job is so important why aren't people like Merkel going for it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The King's new clothes act 4 scene 17. The EU has 29 million unemployed, a number of bailout/basket case economies, vast swathes of deserted properties in some areas, overcrowding in others, and a badly misguided "courting" of Ukraine on its CV. If you suggest things may not be ideal, you're an outcast.

    So, a question for Herr Schulz - by what measures do you consider the project a success?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    This is what i feel the EU is:

    "We are the EU! This man will rule you! No, you don't have a choice!"

    This is what i would like:

    "We are the EU! Here to help you trade with countries all around the world! We want nothing to do with the running of your country and we don't expect 50 million puonds a day from you!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    'EU's weary endurance of Britain doing things differently' What a typical pro EU statement from the beeb. Have the Beeb ever been to any EU countries & seen how they flout EU laws??? To say we are the ones doing things different is clap trap. We obey the EU laws almost to the point of being riddiculous, where most EU countries just use them as a vague guide!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Anyone still in doubt as to what the real motives are behind this dinosaur? We joined a 'common market' in the 70s - it sure as hell isn't anything to do with that any more. It's about control, domination and the creation of one massive super state. Be warned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    @ 7 paulus

    My point is, if you wish to be put forward as a candidate for the Presidency, shouldn't you (out of courtesy) make a visit to those nations who are big contributors ?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    #2: You might as well ask: "The UK PM/Speaker of the House/Queen/Home Secretary/Nigel Forage - do we need them?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The EU is getting so tiresome - they cannot ignore the UK, and they cannot continue being the inept fools that they are. Something has to change but they're only going for more of the same. Useless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The will have a democratic election, and when Merkel indicates the "chosen" one, he will be deemed to have won.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I think what the British people want is quite normal: a healthy relationship with Europe based on trade and social exchange, we do not want political and monetary union, particularly after the situation in Greece. Why is that a bad thing ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    A quick word then to all the people who believe that the EU is a paradigm of democracy.

    Which Presidental candidate are you voting for?


    What's that?

    Oh no, you can't vote, can you.

    The EU tells you who your leader is going to be.
    And it will probably be the embittered Britain hating socialist, Schulz.
    Vile man.

    Time to get out.
    2 weeks to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.


    You may like to shift the blame on the EU (Like everybody else) but it's our actions that have made the commission presidents avoid us.

    If anything if they come over our media would spin what they say to suit the anti-EU agenda here, I have yet to see any media source that can show why we should stay in the EU.

    Instead it's all about immigration......we want to leave the EU for that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It's a nice little boys club. I wonder how many other countries they will not bother to attend. They don't need democracy or the public. They only need themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Why didn't the UKIP MEPs stand?
    UKIP MEPs are democratically elected yet they refuse to represent us democratically in the EU and have the gall to say that the EU is undemocratic...

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I wouldn't want to come to England either if there was a danger I had to meet people like Dave, George and IDS !.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    " So while this contest to be Commission president rolls through Europe, gaining some attention from voters and hacks, it's invisible in Britain."
    Says it all. No wonder so many people (and not just in the UK) see the EU as an expensive folly, and an exclusive gentlemens' club.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The president of the EU commission, do we need one?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    There has been nothing to stop our political parties from putting someone forward for election. Well, the MEP's that turn up for work anyway.

    Unfortunately, the ones that don't bother turning up are blathering all over the place at the moment about how 'undemocratic' the EU is, whilst pocketing large sums of money to do so. There is an inherent irony here...


Page 26 of 26


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.