The six candidates to preside over the European Commission try to bring the European Union closer to citizens

Never before has a debate for European elections generated so much attention. Six candidates, six parties and the chamber of the Eurocmara transformed into a giant plat for an hour and a half exchange broadcast live on public televisions throughout the continent. A gigantic deployment for, however, an irrelevant fact.The next week is almost certainly the most important appointment since 1979, but the exchange that millions of spectators have been able to contemplate today is complicated to take anyone with reservations to the polls, which serves to decide or to cast a vote or to bring Brussels to 500 million people.

There is something bittersweet in these community debates. I had everything that has been claimed for a long time. Media, publicity, audience, prepared candidates, who know and are an essential part of the Brussels gear, European and non-national issues. Migration crisis, jobs, climate change, security, investment in Africa, fair taxation ("For me, a fiscal paradise is the place where everyone pays their taxes," said Vestager, pointing to the room), common issues that require solutions common. But the 'gap', the gap, is sometimes insurmountable. The format, to begin with, has not been up to par. There has been hardly any debate, except for a few exchanges. It was rather a succession of monologues. Little raw material for those who sought to deepen but sufficient reinforcement for those already convinced.

The EU wants to connect with the citizen and more before the appointment that leads to the election of the only institution of direct representation. Show that the vote matters, now even more than ever. That it is you, reader, who decides and who has his future in his hands. But it costs to swallow that idea when the candidates are strangers, strangers or as much vaguely familiar faces, that do not even speak the same language and need interpreters among themselves. When there are no transnational lists. When the rules, the Treaties, say that those who decide the executive positions are the heads of State and Government, and not the voters. When nobody understands the institutional architecture. When, in spite of the fact that the issues addressed are European, the last word is national. We ask again and again debates of content, of substance and not of forms, and when they arrive we realize that if those we know are always emotional, visceral, of things easily thrown to the adversary and shady, it is for something.

Favorites to the European Commission

The appointment of the Wednesday in the Chamber has convened six candidates, who in theory, and only in theory, are favorites to chair the European Commission. He had the best and worst of the EU today. Education, diversity and respect, because those present are known, treated and respected. They do not hate or need to pretend. In the EU, we work together because nobody can send alone, everyone is needed and they look for common points. "We can make an alliance from Tsirpas to Macron," said the Dutchman Timmermans inviting his umbrella to green and left on topics such as weather. Trying the clear strategy of trying the miracle of adding without the conservatives.

But he also had the worst.Distance sensation, bubble. Of people who are desperately trying to connect with a citizen who does not understand. Struggling not to mention populisms and extremists, the elephant in the room. Fearless and impotent. And in the background surprised that 500 million people do not approach, get involved and get excited with them with a project, a flag and some common institutions.

The Eurocmara wants that, yes, one of the protagonists of today's debate is the successor of Jean-Claude Juncker, but the capitals have made it clear that the last word is theirs and that they do not feel obliged to anything. They said it bluntly last week in Sibiu (Romania) in a Cumbe. Emmanuel Macron, the Luxemburg Bettel or the Lithuanian Dalia Grybauskait. Nobody, absolutely nobody, came out in defense of the system, and it is very difficult to find enthusiastic supporters outside the camera itself and some 'think tank'. Everyone wants unanimity, but it is not necessary. "Of course, it will be better if we can reach a consensus on all the decisions, but we must be realistic, not shy away from submitting these decisions to a vote if it is difficult to reach a consensus", warns the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, anticipating storm.

They were on the platManfred Weber, of the European People's Party. The favorite, in theory, because theirs have all the ballots to return to be the most voted force in these elections. A solvent MEP, leader of their ranks, disciplined, European, but without any Executive experience, not even at the local level. And little charisma. Someone with a profile too flat, according to many governments, who can not imagine him at the head of the Commission despite having the formal support of his group. In debates of this kind, it was seen recently in Florence, it is not comfortable. He has little to gain and a lot to lose, he is an easy victim of attacks from the extremes and those who do not have victory as an objective. And also his oratory and linguistic skills are one point below those of his main opponents.

At his side, Frans Timmermans, the great hope of the Socialists and Democrats. A polyglot diplomat and current vice president, who does not generate excessive sympathy among the rest of the groups and who even has warm support from his government, of a very different color. He is brilliant in speech, quick in reaction and attack, a consummate but volcanic, arrogant politician. Too ambitious and unpredictable, for good and for bad, according to its critics.

In the room was alsoMargrethe Vestager, Commissar of Competition, one of the most popular women of the continent and with excellent reputation. Ingenious, fast. He is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), which disappear after the vote to join the Rpublique in Marche de Macron in something new to be defined. ALDE is against the Spitzenkandidat system, and that's why it does not have a single candidate, but seven, with figures like the BelgianGuy Verhofstadtor the SpanishLuis Garicanonext to the Danish. It symbolizes in itself many of the obstacles of this race. Support Macron before a Danish of their own that a Conservative Gaul as Barnier for the post? Will Germany or France respect someone who is so prepared even though he has opposed some of his plans on Competition? Does it make sense a policy whose current government does not appreciate and above, before your country goes to the polls in just three weeks?

The next legislature does not have a Great Coalition. The projections and surveys indicate that popular and socialists will need the Liberals and / or the Greens, represented by another German,Ska Keller. Fresh, different, but aware that the role of theirs is still accessory. They can, as they did last night, redefine the terms of a European talk often corseted, but not change the continent. Not yet. There are many points, excellent for the image but not very relevant in terms of power and influence.

The best example of this European dissonance are the other two candidates. The Czech deputyJan Zahradil, of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) and the Belgian trade unionistNico Cu, of the European Left. Two absolute strangers, alien to even a good part of the most active participants in the Brussels bubble. Figures of second or third level, without any type of influence or ascendant, in institutions, parties or the public sphere. Many journalists admit today that they had never seen or heard either of them before.

Zahradil was surely the one who maintained a more different discourse, typical of his group. Escptico, critic with Brussels, with the centralization. In favor of returning competition, of a "flexible Europe" and against what I defined as an old-fashioned motto, typical of decades ago, that of "an ever closer union" that treaties collect.

The different note, perhaps more representative of the electoral debate, was that the participants began to speak positively. Not so much of the threats, the dangers, the risk of rupture, the theme of the last block. They talked about the future, about building, about a more united and different Europe where companies pay what they owe. They proposed, instead of the "Last Chance Commission" that Juncker talked about, to think of a "Commission for a new beginning". Deca Colin Powell that the great leaders are "almost always great simplifiers, that can make room between discussions, debates and doubts to offer a solution that everyone can understand". Europe is not simple and solutions rarely come straight. It requires debates, discussions and, as we know, eternal doubts. It has always been like that and continue to syndicate. And at least the six who aspire to preside over it have it internalized, so they make proposals, but they do not sell miracles. And it is appreciated.

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