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There are three separate presidents of the EU . They are all appointed in different ways. But for each one, what is the mechanism for firing them before their term is up, and who can do it?

They are:

  • European Parliament president
  • European Council president
  • European Commission president
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    Would't this question be better when split into three questions? Each asking about one of them. – JJJ Sep 24 '18 at 21:22
  • @JJJ Maybe, but then someone would complain they are too similar and ask me to merge them :) – Anush Sep 24 '18 at 21:35
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    I don't think so. Now it's bound to receive partial answers so when you accept one, it's likely to only answer one of the questions. Also, when Googling one of the question, this isn't likely to show up as the top result because the title doesn't reflect any of the specific questions. Therefore, splitting them really is the best option. – JJJ Sep 24 '18 at 21:46
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    There are three separate Presidents of specific EU institutions, but it is misleading/incorrect to refer to any or all of them as “President(s) of the EU” (unlike the President of the USA). – owjburnham Sep 25 '18 at 13:39
  • @owjburnham That's a very good point. – Anush Sep 25 '18 at 15:45
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Of the three the President of the European Parliament is the one whose notion of dismissal is more vague. There is a description about its election in the Article 14 of the Treaty of Lisbon but not for dismissal:

  1. The European Parliament shall elect its President and its officers from among its members.

In any case the President of the European Parliament is a member of Parliament and consequentially is subject to the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament. This means any member of the parliament can be suspended (it hasn't happened to a president, but the suspension of an MEP is not without precedent). Also notice that the powers of the President of the European Parliament are not comparable to the other two you've mentioned.


For the Presidency of the European Council the European Council is responsible for both appointment and dismissal as is described in the Article 15 of the Treaty of Lisbon:

  1. The European Council shall elect its President, by a qualified majority, for a term of two and a half years, renewable once. In the event of an impediment or serious misconduct, the European Council can end the President's term of office in accordance with the same procedure.

The President of the Commission responds to the European Parliament which can remove the President of the EU commission (in fact the whole of the Commission) by a motion of censure as is described in the Article 234 of the Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union:

If a motion of censure on the activities of the Commission is tabled before it, the European Parliament shall not vote thereon until at least three days after the motion has been tabled and only by open vote.

If the motion of censure is carried by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, representing a majority of the component Members of the European Parliament, the members of the Commission shall resign as a body and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall resign from duties that he or she carries out in the Commission. They shall remain in office and continue to deal with current business until they are replaced in accordance with Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union. In this case, the term of office of the members of the Commission appointed to replace them shall expire on the date on which the term of office of the members of the Commission obliged to resign as a body would have expired.

This is also described in the Article 17 of the Treaty of Lisbon:

  1. The Commission, as a body, shall be responsible to the European Parliament. In accordance with Article 201 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Parliament may vote on a motion of censure of the Commission. If such a motion is carried, the members of the Commission shall resign as a body and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall resign from the duties that he carries out in the Commission.
  • It seems removing the President of the Commission is very hard. Getting a two thirds majority is all but impossible in practice I would have thought. – Anush Sep 25 '18 at 15:48
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    @Anush It's typically called a supermajority and it's not uncommon throughout the world. For example you also need 2/3 to dissolve the house of commons in the UK, and 2/3 to remove the US president from functions. Even more common are constitutional reforms which frequently require supermajority. – armatita Sep 25 '18 at 16:11
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    @Anush I was quoting the supermajority wikipedia link I gave which presents examples for several nations, UK included. I checked the information and they refer to the Fixed Terms Parliament Acts 2011 which states: new general election will take place if "...the number of members who vote in favour of the motion is a number equal to or greater than two thirds of the number of seats in the House (including vacant seats).". There are indeed other provisions to achieve the same but that does not make it untrue. – armatita Sep 26 '18 at 8:09
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    @Anush Also I didn't mean to mislead anyone. Your question is about the EU not the UK. I'm not sure what comparison you are trying to make but those two entities are very different with very different ways of functioning. The EU is not a country, but a federation(ish) of countries. That being said you don't, in fact, need two-thirds to call a general election in UK. As I mentioned in my comment there are other provisions. – armatita Sep 26 '18 at 8:43
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    @Anush Ok, agreed. My mistake, terrible phrasing. Erratum: It's possible to call an earlier general election with 2/3 of the seats in the house. However the same can be achieved with the approval of a motion of no-confidence as is described in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. – armatita Sep 26 '18 at 9:10

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