EU: No agreement on senior officials: Von der Leyen has to wait

EU: No agreement on senior officials: Von der Leyen has to wait

The poker over the replacement of senior EU officials after the European elections continues: the heads of state and government of the EU countries could not finally agree on all the details of the personnel package planned in a summit held that night in Brussels. Under a basic agreement between the three main party families, CDU politician Ursula von der Leyen will remain president of the powerful EU Commission, responsible for EU legislative proposals, for another five years.

Therefore, the Estonian liberal head of government, Kaja Kallas, would become the new head of EU diplomacy. Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa will be elected president of the body of Heads of State and Government. As President of the Council, the Social Democrat would be responsible for preparing EU summits and leading working sessions.

Next meeting next week

At the end of next week the Heads of State and Government will meet for another summit, which will actually focus mainly on important future issues. Now he has to talk about the top positions again. Diplomats said it was ultimately just a matter of details. The six heads of state and government who negotiated on behalf of the three main party families agreed on the names of von der Leyen, Costa and Kallas.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis are negotiating on behalf of the EPP, while Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez are negotiating on behalf of the Social Democrats. The Liberals are relying on French President Emmanuel Macron and outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as negotiators.

The current president of the EU Council, Charles Michel, said that night that the breakup without a final agreement had not surprised him. The meeting was planned to provide an opportunity for a detailed exchange of views.

Dispute over the duration of a position

According to diplomats, one of the reasons for the conflict on Monday night was that the party family with the CDU and CSU parties wanted to ensure that the appointment of the post of President of the EU Council was not regulated immediately for five years. This would mean that, in theory, he could reclaim the position after two and a half years. According to information from negotiating circles, the Social Democrats rejected it.

Unlike the President of the Commission and the Foreign Affairs Representative, the head of the Council is actually only elected for a period of two and a half years. More recently, however, the position was promised to a party family for five years during personnel negotiations, like the other positions.

Center-right alliance claims top spot

The bourgeois conservative EPP party became by far the strongest political force in the European elections at the beginning of June, ahead of the Social Democrats and the Liberals. It therefore has the strongest position in the negotiations and claims the presidency of the EU Commission for itself.

This is by far the most important position to be filled after the European elections. The incumbent is the head of some 32,000 employees who, among other things, submit proposals for new EU laws and monitor compliance with European treaties. He also sits at the table as the EU representative at almost all major international summits, such as the G7 or the G20.

A simple majority is not enough

For the decision in the body of heads of State and Government of the EU States, the so-called reinforced qualified majority is necessary. This means that at least 20 of the 27 EU states had to agree and they also had to represent at least 65 percent of the total EU population.

There are currently a dozen heads of state and government from member parties of the centre-right EPP alliance in the European Council. They are followed by the group of liberals, among whom is in particular the French president Macron, and that of the social democratic heads of state and government with politicians such as Chancellor Scholz. For von der Leyen to take on a second term, after the heads of state and government, members of the European Parliament must also give the green light.

Orban sees the election results ignored

Criticism of the negotiations between the three large party families came that night from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who left the EPP with his party in 2021 after a dispute over the rule of law in his country and has not belonged to any party family since so. .

The Hungarian wrote after the summit that the right-wing parties had grown stronger in the European elections, while the left and the liberals had lost ground, but the EPP had now joined forces with the socialists and liberals. “Today they made a deal and divided the highest positions in the EU between them. “You don’t care about reality,” Orban wrote. “Today in Brussels the will of the European people was ignored.”

However, he did not say whether Orban openly opposed von der Leyen. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stressed early on Tuesday morning: “I did not see any voice from the Commission president questioning his position.” Von der Leyen left the EU Council building without making any public comments.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:240618-99-434042/4

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