Guy Verhofstadt insisted unanimity rules currently in place in the European Union hinder the decision-making powers of European institutions on matters such as migration. Mr Verhofstatd, who is running to take over as European Commissioner from Jean-Claude Juncker when the top Eurocrat retires in November, claimed member states could not be expected to agree unanimously on controversial issues and would need to apply majority rules. Speaking to Euronews, the Belgian politician said: “Today, what the European Council – the member states – have decided is that all these policies have to be shaped by unanimity.
“You know very well, when it is with unanimity, that it will never happen. It never works. There is always one country that says, ‘I don’t believe in it, I don’t follow it.
“The first thing to do is to apply the Treaty because in the Treaty we’re saying that it has to be with the majority ruling.”
EU member states have been urging the Commission to revisit the controversial Dublin Regulation to improve common legislation on migration and asylum requests.
The Dublin rules collapsed following the 2015 migration crisis, which put the bloc under unprecedented strain. The migration problem has also exacerbated tensions between member states, which have yet to agree on a common immigration policy.
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Mr Verhofstadt continued: “If we apply majority ruling, we can have the European Border and Coast Guards, we can have the European Dublin system reformed, the asylum system reformed.
“And we can have European economic migration. It’s just a question of the will of the European member states to do so. The main problem is in the European Council.”
Speaking last month as he launched his bid for the Commission, Mr Verhofstadt hinted at plans to create a European “empire” to fend off the threat of larger and stronger political actors.
The European Commission President candidate for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) claimed China, India, the US and Russia will dominate the world in the form of “empires” and urged people to support his plan for a “united Europe”.
Mr Juncker, Brussels’ most senior official, is set to leave office at midnight on October 31 after five years at the helm.
In 2014, the former Luxembourg Prime Minister was handed the top job using the so-called Spitzenkandidat, where the nominee of the largest group in the EU Parliament is appointed upon confirmation from MEPs elected in May’s European elections.
The current favourite to succeed the top Eurocrat is German MEP Manfred Weber, a fellow member of the European People’s Party and a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
But EU insiders have all but conceded that it is impossible that the German, a close ally of Angela Merkel, will ever come close to taking the top job.
Mr Weber doesn’t possess the expected credentials of a European Commission president – a former prime minister or a French speaker.
French President Emmanuel Macron, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Lithuanian Dalia Grybauskaite have all spoken out against the use of the Spitzenkandidat process.
The French leader said he has “a lot of respect” for Mr Weber but that “I do not see myself as in any way bound by the principle of Spitzenkandidat”.
Mr Kurz said: “It will be difficult to tell voters that there will be elections and a Spitzenkandidat and then leaders say: let the people vote, we will decide in a small circle among ourselves.
“I do not see this is democratic. If Manfred wins the election, then he can claim the Commission presidency.”