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EU referendum: The five men in charge of the EU

EU and UK flags fly above the EU Commission offices in Westminster, London. David Cameron is making final efforts to bolster support for his proposed European Union reforms before a crunch summit. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday  February 17 2016. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA

These are the five men in charge of the EU

Can you name the men in charge of the EU? 

We’ll give you a clue…. there are five in total.

These include the presidents of the European Parliament, European Council, European Commission, European Central Bank and Eurogroup, the informal meeting of financial institutions in the eurozone.

So who are they? Whichever way you vote in the EU referendum, these five names are well worth remembering.


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European Council President Donald Tusk (L) chats with European Parliament President Martin Schulz at a meeting during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Position: President of the European Parliament

Nationality: German

Salary: £227,000

Schulz had dreamed about becoming a professional football player until a knee injury put an end to those ambitions. Instead he became a bookseller, politician and then mayor of his home town of Wurselen.

He made his name in the European Parliament 2009 when he questioned whether Jose Manuel Barroso, then European Commission president, should be automatically given a second term. After speaking with Barroso, he dropped his objection and was later unanimously nominated as a candidate for president of the European Parliament.

In 2010, Schulz was interrupted by British MEP Godfrey Bloom who heckled him with the Nazi slogan ‘Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer’ meaning ‘one people, one empire, one leader’.

Schulz also got into trouble after he took over the European Parliament’s Twitter account – set up by staff – for himself, making it his own personal account.

His main responsibilities include 1) ensuring parliamentary procedures are properly followed, 2) overseeing parliament’s various activities and committees, 3) representing parliament in all legal matters and in its international relations and 4) giving final assent to the EU budget.


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eu referendum: five men in charge - who are they?. EU Council President Donald Tusk gestures as he arrives for a meeting with Slovakian Prime minister Robert Fico at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 1, 2016. Slovakia is taking the EU presidency from June 1 to December 31. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

Position: President of the European Council

Nationality: Polish

Salary: £235,000

Appointed by: National leaders (heads of state for EU countries)

The president of the European Council is former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk – who has himself been outspoken in recent weeks about EU leader’s ‘utopian illusions’ risking breaking Europe apart.

Tusk may have come under fire for having one of the largest political salaries in the world (not to mention his motorcade of five limousines) but he has been a key figure in working toward resolving the migration crisis and helping Syrian refugees coming to Europe.

Tusk also played a part in successfully keeping Greece a member of the eurozone, despite its struggling economy.

His main responsibilities include 1) leading the EC’s work in setting the EU’s general political direction and priorities, 2) promoting cohesion and consensus within the EC and 3) representing the EU externally on foreign and security issues.


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eu referendum: five men in charge - who are they?. FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, May 26, 2016, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks during a press conference in Shima, central Japan, Thursday, May 26, 2016. Spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday May 30, 2016, that Jean-Claude Juncker would address a Russian economic conference in St. Petersburg and meet Putin in mid-June, in what would be the most high-profile EU visit since Russia annexed Crimea two-years ago. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, FILE)

Position: President of the European Commission

Nationality: Luxembourger

Salary: £245,000

Appointed by: National leaders of EU countries

Juncker was prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2015. His appointment to the EU commission was controversial due to the country’s status as a tax haven while under his control, something The Guardian’s Nick Cohen writes about in great detail here.

When he was caught have a few too many during a press meet and greet last year, that probably didn’t help his reputation either.

But that said, Juncker has been a strong advocate of ensuring there is a minimum wage and income for all workers in European countries.

He was one of the architects of the euro single currency and has worked tirelessly to keep the eurozone afloat after the financial crisis in 2008, making sure Greece’s debts didn’t take it down.

Juncker is also an advocate of deeper EU integration and strives to help those in the poorest nations.

His main responsibilities include 1) giving political guidance to the Commission, 2) calling and chairing meetings of the college of the Commissioners, 3) leading the Commission’s work in implementing EU policies, 4) taking part in G7 meetings and 5) contributing to major debates both in the European Parliament and between EU governments in the Council of the European Union


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epa05171170 President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi (C) during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, 19 Februrary 2016. EU leaders were set to try to thrash out an agreement with Britain on reforms, amid hopes that they can seal a deal which will convince the country to stay in their bloc. Fears are rife that Britons might vote to leave the European Union in a referendum that Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold by the end of 2017, but that is widely expected this year already. The turmoil over Brexit - the buzzword for Britain's possible departure from the EU after more than 40 years of half-hearted membership - comes at a time when the bloc is already struggling with a severe migration crisis and enduring economic woes. EPA/MARTIN MEISSNER / POOL EPA/MARTIN MEISSNER / POOL

Position: President of the European Central Bank

Nationality: Italian

Salary: £296,000

‘Super Mario’ was an Italian economist and banker at Goldman Sachs before becoming president of the European Central Bank in 2011.

He is pretty well respected on the whole and was nominated the world’s second greatest leader by Fortune Magazine in 2015 and world’s eight most powerful person by Forbes in 2014.

However, he has been accused o having a conflict of interests in the job (he’s a member of Rockefeller’s Group of Thirty lobbyists in the financial sector) and was heckled by a female protester wearing an ‘End ECB dick-tatorship’ T-Shirt last year.


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FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 file photo, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem gestures as he arrives for a meeting of eurogroup finance ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels. Greece's creditors said Friday, April 22, 2016 they are within touching distance of an agreement over the next batch of reforms the cash-strapped country has to make to unlock further bailout funds and trigger debt-relief discussions. Following weeks of criticism and delay, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the top official of the grouping of the 19 euro countries, said a decisive breakthrough could come as soon as next Thursday, when a special meeting of the eurogroup will likely be held in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, file)

Position: President of the Eurogroup

Nationality: Dutch

Salary: Unknown

Dijsselbloem, dubbed Mr Euro, took over as president of Eurogroup in 2013 from Jean-Claude Juncker and went on to negotiate a bailout package with Greece after the Syriza party’s victory in the Greek elections.

Dijsselbloem, who was raised a Roman Catholic, also holds a position as minister of finance for the Netherlands and is a member of the country’s labour party at the same time as being president of Eurogroup.


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About the author

Sydney Chesterfield

Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Humanitarian, mad lover of children and unflinching fighter for equality on all grounds viz. Women's rights, child rights, sine die.

Twitter: @syd_field