2019 European elections


Millefeuille Provence and Europe

Millefeuille Provence is a french school that welcomes, each year, Commission officials and representatives of the European Parliament. Indeed, it is important for MEPs to speak French. Why is it so important for them to learn French? Simply because they work in Strasbourg for the twelve parliamentary plenary sessions and in Brussels for the parliamentary committees. Living most of the year immersed in a francophone territory, learning French is necessary. They have to consider French as a professional language but also a social one.

Elections in the European institutions and their particularities

The European Parliament 

Each European institution has its role and its particularity. The European Parliament, for example, is the only EU institution elected directly by the citizens. The latter exercises three fundamental powers: legislative, budgetary and political oversight.

From 23 to 26 May, Europeans were invited to elect their 751 representatives to the European Parliament.  

In France, it was on May 26, that voters were called to the polls. France was to elect 79 MEPs, which is five more than in the 2014 elections. The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit) led to a reorganization of the European Parliament. Thus, several under-represented Member States, including France, benefited from it. The electoral campaign was marked by a record number of lists of candidates: 34! Nevertheless, it took place in a tense social context with the movement of yellow vests 

Taking into account the results of the vote and a coalition, the elected MEPs met on 3 July. The aim was to elect the President of the European Parliament and the various bodies (Bureau, Quaestors, Commissions, etc.). It was therefore without difficulty that David Sassoli was elected.

The European Commission

The European Commission, composed of one Commissioner per Member State, has the main function of proposing and implementing Community policies.

The article 17 of the Treaty on European Union states that “Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament, and after having carried out appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for function of President of the Commission. This candidate is elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its members. If this candidate does not obtain a majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, proposes, within one month, a new candidate, who is elected by the European Parliament according to the same procedure. “

Thus, in anticipation of the European elections, the large political families represented in the European Parliament have designated “Spitzenkandidat”. In that context, we are speaking of the top of the list that contribute to the presidency of the Commission and the European Council.

In the case of the Commission, it is against all odds that the name of the German Ursula von der Leyen has been proposed. Indeed, this German liberal was not chosen from the proposed list. Heads of State and Government have not followed the “rule” and this has been the subject of much debate. However, on 16 July 2019, after a plenary sitting in the European Parliament and many debates, the decision fell: the Commission elected President Ursula von der Leyen by 383 votes. It will then be the turn of the President to elect its members.

The European Council

At the time of the appointment of Ursula von der Leyen, the Heads of State and Government also appointed the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. In contrast to Parliament and the Commission, the term for the mandate of the President will be only two and a half years, renewable once. It will start on December 1st. Composed of the Heads of State or Government of the 28 EU Member States, the role of the Council is to set the agenda for the EU. The European Council therefore adopts conclusions highlighting issues of concern and the measures to be taken.

Multilingualism of institutions

As far as working languages are concerned, the institutions must ensure full multilingualism. It must be guaranteed for all plenary meetings, meetings of parliamentary bodies, parliamentary committees and political groups. For press conferences, the number of languages is often limited to three: French, English and the speaker’s language (or, failing that, German). Translation services operate at full capacity. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation is today known as the largest translation service on the planet.

Do you want to learn French for your career in institutions? Find out about our immersion intensive French courses and enjoy your week-end to discover the most beautiful region of France: Provence!