On sunday evening, the eu heads of state and government once again argued about the new leadership for the european union.
At a special summit in brussel, a personnel proposal was made: according to this proposal, the head of the EU commission should not be CSU politician manfred weber, but a social democrat – probably the dutchman frans timmermans. But this was met with fierce opposition.
At a meeting of the european people’s party (EPP), to which the CDU and CSU also belong, merkel was isolated and heavily criticized, reported "die welt". Several EPP heads of government, including bulgarian prime minister boiko borisov, had accused merkel of disregarding party interests and not campaigning hard enough for the EPP’s top candidate weber. Irish prime minister leo varadkar said at the summit that timmermans’ proposal was far from being through and that it was open whether there would be an agreement at all.
Merkel held talks on the fringes of the G20 summit in japan in an attempt to reach a compromise. Since the european elections at the end of may, the EU member states and the european parliament have been battling for the top post in the commission and other top jobs. On arrival in brussel, most summit participants said the time was ripe to make a decision. "I believe we must reach a conclusion today," EU commission chief jean-claude juncker stressed. But the trickiest part was his own succession in the fall.
A majority in the eu parliament wants to elect only one of the european election frontrunners as commission chief – parliament president antonio tajani stressed that again at the summit. This left only weber, whose EPP became the strongest political group in the european elections in may, and timmermans, whose social democrats became the second force.
Weber, however, does not have a majority in the council of heads of state and government. The council also does not feel bound by the principle of top candidates when nominating candidates. On the other hand, each candidate ultimately needs the majority in parliament. In view of the situation, merkel said, "it will not be a very easy discussion."The start of the summit was delayed by more than two and a half hours this evening.
After talks with merkel and other heads of government in japan, eu council head donald tusk had for the first time presented a possible personnel package: a social democrat as head of the commission, EPP politicians for the posts of parliamentary president and eu commissioner, and a liberal as the new head of the council, i.E. Tusk’s successor. Merkel, whose CDU is part of the EPP, apparently accepted this in order to save the principle of the top candidate. Thus, timmermans seemed to be in the best starting position.
French president emmanuel macron, who was involved in the preliminary discussions, was open to timmermans – but also to brexit negotiator michel barnier and danish liberal margrethe vestager for the post of commission head. Vestager, however, was not the sole top candidate of her party family.
Czech prime minister andrej babis, who belongs to the liberals, also spoke out against timmermans. "This person is not the right one to unite europe," babis says. The four visegrad states poland, slovakia, hungary and the czech republic had reservations. Hungarian prime minister viktor orban protested against timmermans in a letter to the EPP.
Babis, however, answered the question whether the approval for timmermans was a red line: "we are flexible, we have to negotiate."In the end, a balanced package should emerge that all sides can live with. Babis stressed that women also had to be represented.
The EU summit must find an agreement for the post of commission president that is supported by at least 21 countries representing 65 percent of the EU’s population.
A new president is also being sought for the european central bank (ECB). On sunday, however, it was unclear whether this position would also be decided on in the personnel package.