EU horse-trading fails to pick leaders

EU horse-trading fails to pick leaders

The EU is deadlocked over who should replace European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel disagreeing over the five-year appointment.

The choices for the EU’s top jobs have to take account of last month’s European elections and achieve a balance with large and small states, gender and geography.

Merkel has insisted that fellow German Manfred Weber, the lead candidate from the European People’s Party (EPP), of which her CDU is a member, should be appointed.

Macron, who is affiliated with the European liberal party, wants to change the voting system and allow EU leaders to choose the commission president.

Nominees require the support of least 21 of the 28 EU leaders and majority backing in the European Parliament, which will convene on July 2.

European leaders are due to meet again on June 30 to discuss the appointment of commissioners.

“I don’t expect that [to be easy]. But it has to be done,” Juncker said after unsuccessful talks yesterday (Friday).

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said “all the names are still on the table but I am positive we will find a solution [on June 30]”.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that he was “more cautious than optimistic” ahead of the latest gathering of European leaders in Brussels.

May’s elections produced more political fragmentation, including a rise in the numbers of Green and liberal MEPs.

The EPP lost seats in the elections, making it more difficult to form a majority of MEPs behind Weber.

Macron has suggested Merkel should take the job herself.

The European Parliament must ratify the commission appointments.

“It is a finding that presents us with challenges, of course, that is clear,” Merkel said, in reference to the lack of a parliamentary majority. She stressed the importance of a “balanced” package of appointments and that “under no circumstances do we want a crisis with the parliament”.

The candidates are: Weber, a member of Bavaria’s CSU, the CDU’s sister party; Dutch socialist and current commission vice president Frans Timmermans; European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, a Danish liberal from the Renew Europe bloc; and the commission’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, an EPP member.

EU leaders also pick successors to Tusk and Federica Mogherini, the foreign affairs representative.

The leaders are also choosing a European Central Bank (ECB) chief to replace Mario Draghi, and a replacement for Antonio Tajani as president of the European Parliament.

European politics remains in flux. Picture credit: Eurasia Times

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