One of the candidates of the European Liberals (ALDE) for the presidency of the next European Commission is Emma Bonino. The former EU commissioner will represent Italy in this special “Team Europe”, built up to in the light of the next European elections. It will be the EU Parliament to finally endorse the new head of the EU executive body, and the Liberals decided to give more options – as many as seven – for the purpose of giving life to a unique democratic exercise in the European landscape.
The European People’s Party (EPP) and the Party of European Socialists (PES) have chosen their own “Spitzenkandidat”, a single man indicated as the candidate to succeed to Jean-Claude Juncker to highest post in the Berlaymont buiding. The European center-right elected the German Manfred Weber, while the European center-left picked the Dutch Frans Timmermans.
The European Greens, as their own traditions, elected a leading duo (one man and one woman, the Dutch Bas Eickhout and the German Ska Keller). So seven candidates is really an unmatched offer.
Last week, while the EU heads of State and government discussed about Brexit, in Brussels the ALDE assembly nominated Margrethe Vestager (current European Commissioner for Competition, from Denmark), Violeta Bulc (current European Commissioner for Transport, from Slovenia), Guy Verhofstadt (current president of the ALDE group, from Belgium), Nicola Beer (from Germany), Katalin Cseh (Hungary), Luis Garicano (Spain), and Emma Bonino.
More political space
What the Liberals are proposing is something completely new. The reason behind this strategy is political, as Bonino explained. “I was decided to form this Team to give a sense of the complexity of Europe and to give the possibility, after the elections, to have a wider negotiating margin”.
It is about the real political work the will take place in Europe after next May elections. Offering alternatives to the other interlocutors could create a better environment. This is true for the opponents, as well as for the closer potential allies.
The president of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, has not officially joined ALDE yet. This is could explain why no French is in the team, and this is also the reason why the team has been created: to work together with Macron on the final candidate, when negotiations will start.
Bonino: “We are the alternative to populism”
With three European legislatures as MEP (1979-1984, 1984-1989, 1999-2004), an experience as European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection (1995-1999), Emma Bonino’s CV is cast-iron pro-European.
“It is clear that we are against nationalism and populism”, she stressed. She adds: “I do not think that a negative campaign is enough, it is important to have a campaign of hope to move forward”. It means that instead of claiming to reject something or someone, tangible and concrete proposals have to be put on the table.
A more ambitious EU budget on climate, full and real gender balance, tackling unfair competition, youth-friendly policies: that is what the Liberals are in favor of.
More Europe for more Europe
“In the next European Parliament it is difficult to have once again a traditional popular-socialist majority”, pointed out Benedetto Della Vedova, the secretary of More Europe (+Europa), Emma Bonino’s party. “We can guarantee that, thanks to Italy, liberal and progressive forces can constitute a pro-European force in the next parliament”.
Bonino, as Della Vedova stressed, was chosen for leading the next EU Commission because “she has a profile of a great personality in European politics”. She is the right person Europe needs to revitalise the EU project. “She represents the desire to protect the EU idea from those who want to defeat the basic values that Europe represents”.
In times where Italy, under its present government, is seen as a country drifting away from Europe, Bonino’s selection augurs well for the election debate.