It will be the second time that the European Broadcasting Union has organised such a debate. The first debate was ahead of the last European elections in 2014.
The 2014 elections were the first in which the various political groups in the European Parliament put forward so-called “Spitzenkandidaten”, a German team meaning top candidate. In fact the 28 (soon to be 27) leaders of the EU member states decide on who will be president of the European Commission.
The European Parliament asked for and was given more say. In future the European Parliament would no longer agree to a candidate being given the post of European Commission President if he/she had not been introduced to the public at large. The “Spitzenkandidat” system was born and the various candidates went around Europe pressing the flesh at a series of question and answer sessions, meet and greets, debates, book signings, television and radio interviews…
Each political group represented in the European parliament has selected a candidate that they open will be President of the European Commission for the next 5 years. Taking part in next Wednesday’s debate are Nico Cué (European Left), Ska Keller (Green), Jan Zahradil (Alliance of Conservatives and reformers), Margrethe Vestager (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats), Manfred Weber (European People’s Party) and Frans Timmermans (European Socialists).
No specific theme has been chosen for the debate. Instead the citizens of EU countries are being asked to suggest topics that should be discussed. Those that wish to can ask the politicians a question via #TellEurope. A selection of the questions asked will be put before the politicians taking part in the debate. During the debate the audience will be able to take part in the discussion on social media.