six battles

Writen by:

Julian Priestley

Julian Priestley


Julian Priestley is the author of five books and many articles, reviews and opinion pieces, covering many political themes.

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Nereo Peñalver Garcia


The making of a European President

In autumn 2013, Martin Schulz, President of the EP, asked me to organise his European campaign for the Commission presidency 2014 – the first of its kind. I saw this as a challenge not to be refused, a culmination of my political commitment over many years. I also saw it as a book opportunity, mindful of the Theodore H. White books, ‘The Making of the President’, about the US presidential elections 1960 up until 1972 which had livened up my reading lists on Us politics at university. But being about European politics, a lot more background and institutional history would be required.

To help me, particularly with the historical elements, and with the dozens of interviews necessary to cover the ground, I needed a co-author. The poisoned chalice was taken up by a colleague and friend in the EP secretariat, Nereo Peñalver Garcia, now in the Foreign Affairs services. With the elections out the way, we were up against the clock. I wanted the book produced quickly, lest the field be occupied by someone else. So the moment that Jean-Claude Juncker took office (November 2014) we needed the completed manuscript.

Working with Nereo was an immense pleasure: we realised as we progressed that the real story was the changing nature of the Commission presidency which now required greater democratic accountability, and justified the holding of presidential elections with the media concentration likely to be increasingly on the personalities aspiring to the Chief Executive Officer. With Nereo I share a kind of reverence for the Founding Fathers of European integration and writing the book confirmed us in our shared convictions. On the hottest day of July 2015, the book was launched in Brussels by Martin Schulz, President again of the EP and by his successful rival, Jean-Claude Juncker. The authors then did a tour of capitals with the book.

The Making of a European President’ is published by Palgrave, with prefaces by both Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker.

Presentation of the book “The Making of a European President” by Nereo Peñalver García and Julian Priestley with presidents Schulz and Juncker.