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Personalities: No agreement on top EU posts at summit

Personalities: No agreement on top EU posts at summit
Personalities: No agreement on top EU posts at summit

About a week after the European elections, Ursula von der Leyen was supposed to overcome another hurdle on the way to a second term as President of the European Commission. But the plan did not work out.

The heads of state and government of the EU countries were unable to reach a final agreement on the new appointments to top EU posts at a summit in Brussels. Council President Charles Michel said this overnight. Ursula von der Leyen cannot yet be entirely sure whether she will be nominated by the heads of state and government for a second term as President of the EU Commission.

At the end of next week, the heads of state and government will meet for another summit. The top posts will be discussed again.

According to diplomats, one reason for the dispute was that the party family, including the CDU and CSU parties, wanted to ensure that the position of EU Council President was not filled immediately for five years. This would mean that they could theoretically lay claim to the position after two and a half years. The Social Democrats rejected this, according to sources close to the negotiations.

EPP by far the strongest force

The bourgeois-conservative EPP 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 was therefore considered likely that its top candidate, Ursula von der Leyen, would be able to remain President of the EU Commission for another five years.

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

In addition to the presidency of the Commission and the post of President of the Council, the personnel package also includes the appointment of the post of the EU’s foreign policy chief. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is the favourite for the latter, while former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa is being considered for the post of President of the Council. Like Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Costa belongs to the Social Democrats (S&D) party family, while Kallas, like French President Emmanuel Macron, belongs to the Liberals (Renew).

Increased qualified majority required

In contrast to the Commission President and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, the President of the Council is actually only elected for 2.5 years. However, in recent personnel negotiations, the post was promised to a party family for five years, like the other posts.

A so-called reinforced qualified majority is required for the decision in the body of heads of state and government of the EU states. This means that at least 20 of the 27 EU states had to agree and they must also represent at least 65 percent of the total population of the EU.

Currently, a dozen heads of state and government in the European Council belong to the member parties of the centre-right EPP alliance. This is followed by the group of liberals, which includes French President Macron in particular, and the group of social democratic heads of state and government with politicians such as Chancellor Scholz.

Source: Stern

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