Say goodbye to the old guard! EU is “paying the price for domination of old war horses”

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Giles Merritt, secretary general of Friends of Europe, said “rightly or wrongly”, the actions of the old guard at Brussels are being seen as corrupt. 

Mr Merritt said the European public were disgusted at how “the EU’s old war horses” dominated positions across the 28-country bloc. 

This, he said, explained the rise in populists like Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen – and it was time for the Brussels establishment to change their ways before it is too late. 

Mr Merritt said: “It’s time for Europe’s mainstream political parties to stop bemoaning the successes of populists on both the far right and far left, and instead respond in ways that will win back electoral support. 

“That means abandoning practices within the EU that, rightly or wrongly, look to outsiders like political fixes.”

He said the race to replace Martin Schultz, who will not seek another term as President of the European Parliament, summed this up.

Mr Merritt said: “The process of choosing a successor to Martin Schulz for the increasingly powerful post of Parliament president is really about the comfortable accommodations between party managers that exist inside the Parliament.

“The Parliament presidency has long been a stitch-up between the centre-right European People’s Party group and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats. 

“They’ve been taking it in turns to occupy the job for most of the last six decades: only five of the 25 presidents have come from outside these groups, the last being more than a decade ago.”

He said the minor efforts Brussels had made to free up the system were not enough – and said the EU faced extinction if did not do more than simply adjust election procedures every few years. 

He concluded: “Tentative and minor attempts like this to democratise the process of filling the EU’s top jobs impress few people. If anything, they must share some of the blame for the dramatic advances enjoyed by populist parties across Europe.

“A first step towards this will be to ensure that it is not only the EU’s old war horses who contest its most important posts. The sense of behind-closed-doors deals has to be confronted by a much more open process.”