The European Parliament's centre-right European People’s Party elected yesterday (12 November) the French politician Joseph Daul as its new president. Daul had already been in the role since former President Wilfried Martens handed over his responsibilities to him in October.
The political assembly of the European People’s Party (EPP), which is comprised of 73 parties from 39 countries, elected Joseph Daul as its new president with 112 out of 124 votes.
Daul, who is also the chairman of the EPP group, was nominated by his French political party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
Daul, a farmer by trade, comes from the northern region of Alsace. In addition to French he speaks German and Alsatian, the German dialect spoken in the region. After having been elected an MEP in 1999, Daul became a member of the committee on agriculture and rural development, where he gained prominence and was appointed chairman in January 2002.
In his statement following the vote, Daul paid tribute to his predecessor, who died last month and who had been prime minister and a founding member of the EPP.
“I will do my best to continue the extraordinary work of Wilfried Martens, whose leadership and commitment has made the EPP the largest and most influential political party in Europe,” Daul stated.
The major highlight in Daul’s statement appears to be his ambition that the EPP elect a candidate for the post of Commission president for the 22-25 May European elections.
“My presidency will be based on three principles: unity, continuity and responsibility. I will put all my energy towards convincing citizens to vote for a Europe that will work for them. I also reconfirm the commitment of the EPP, made at the Congress in Bucharest [held in October 2012], to launch an EU-wide campaign led by our common candidate, who will be chosen at the Dublin Congress on 6 and 7 of March 2014,” Daul stated.
The centre-left Party of European Socialists has already elected Martin Schulz, current president of the European Parliament, as their candidate for Commission president.
As the Liberals and the Greens are also expected to elect candidates by 1 February 2014, the EPP appears to be the last of the major political families to elect a candidate for what is seen as the EU’s top job.
Daul’s statement may put an end to the ambiguity within EPP ranks. While Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who is a vice-president of EPP, has called for European parties to nominate figureheads for their EU election campaigns, Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who is also an EPP vice-president, is against the idea.