The presidents of all three European institutions are predicted to keep their positions until their terms end in 2019, according to a new survey.
A VoteWatch Europe poll of 105 EU experts found that despite—or because of—political crises, the presidents of the European Commission, Parliament and Council will hold onto their jobs.
If the UK had voted to remain in the EU on 23 June, Jean-Claude Juncker, who is said to have health problems, could have retired, the poll found. But Brexit triggered a need for strong and stable leadership in the European Union.
However, a power struggle is said to have started between the EU executive and member states.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly siding with the Czech Republic and the Netherlands against Juncker.
An anonymous German minister told the Sunday Times that the “pressure on him to resign will only become greater, and Chancellor Merkel will eventually have to deal with this next year”.
After the UK referendum, the European Parliament’s support for the EU executive grew and 73% of MEPs voted against the far-right’s demand for Juncker to resign.
But at the same time, Juncker’s popularity among European governments has weakened. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek used especially sharp words when he said that “Juncker is not the right man for the job”.
Seventy-nine percent of experts polled predicted that European Council President Donald Tusk will be re-elected. But they said that he must first work out a deal with the conservatives governing his native Poland.
Martin Schulz will have to reach an agreement with the European People’s Party (EPP) to court a third mandate as president of the European Parliament. This could weaken his chances of being elected again as head of the institution.
Nearly half of respondents believe Schulz will not even finish his second term, which is supposed to come to an end in 2019.
More than eleven percent of people polled think the Netherlands will have a referendum on whether to remain a member of the EU.
Just as many people think the UK might hold another referendum on whether to leave the EU, even though the British government has said this isn’t possible.
After the Brexit referendum, far-right leaders from both France and the Netherlands have called for their countries to have referendums as well.
“Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom, have said that the Netherlands deserved a ‘Nexit’ and Marine Le Pen (National Front) have argued that the French people must also have the right to choose […] This will demand a strong and convincing response from the mainstream pro-EU forces,” the EuroWatch study says.
But the countries most affected by the eurozone financial crisis, including Greece and Spain, have not expressed interest in holding referendums on EU membership.
Most respondents to the poll think that the Netherlands will lose influence in the European Council. Forty percent of experts polled thought that Denmark and Sweden will also lose influence in the Council.
Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands are three of the UK’s closest allies in the EU.
Three quarters of experts predict that France will lead the Council after Brexit.
France and Italy, which, according to VoteWatch, have “voted together in 99% of decisions since Matteo Renzi is Prime Minister”, will be able to pass more “social” legislation in the Parliament.