While the EU’s French Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is the rumoured early front runner to take charge of the bloc’s executive arm in 2019, the process itself has not even got off the ground.
At stake is not just a power struggle between national leaders and the European Parliament over who chooses Juncker’s successor, but questions about democracy that could give fresh ammunition to eurosceptics opposed to the EU.
Juncker was picked in 2014 by a new and controversial “Spitzenkandidat” system – German for “lead candidate” – under which the biggest political group in the European Parliament gets to nominate its candidate for the job.
The European Council of 28 national leaders then makes the final choice, “taking account” of the parliament’s nomination, in the vaguely worded provision of its the EU’s treaties. The whole parliament gets a vote at the end.