France and Germany can’t reach consensus regarding EU’s top jobs

Visit by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, to France
Date: 26/03/2019. Location: France, Paris. Photographer: Etienne Ansotte. © European Union, 2019. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

The EU leaders are expected to meet again on Sunday to discuss about who will be taking over the EU top jobs, while France and Germany seem unable to agree who will be the successor of Jean-Claude Juncker. Last week’s EU summit didn’t conclude on the matter, something that exerts extra pressure onto the bloc’s leaders.

Moreover, the French President Emmanuel Macron attempts to change the existing candidate process for the establishment of the next European Commission’s President while on the opposite side Angela Merkel endorses Manfred Weber and the Spitzenkandidat process.

EU top roles at stake

The EU leaders are currently seeking for candidates and should decide who will be the next European Commission’s President, European Council’s President, European Central Bank’s President and the next High Representative for foreign policy. All nominees require the support of at least 21 out of 28 EU leaders and a majority in the European Parliament.

According to the current status quo, the president of the EC should come from the party with the most seats in the European Parliament. The latter means that Manfred Weber should be the next president but 11 of the 27 EU leaders blocked his nomination last week. Furthermore, Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager who are among the candidates for the position of the EC president have been also ruled out. Thus, it is quite difficult to appoint the remaining EU jobs when the place of the Commission’s president is empty.

France against Germany

The French President seems to be opposing to the Spitzenkandidat process and is not supporting Manfred Weber as the next EC chief. On the contrary, Emmanuel Macron expresses his sympathy to Michel Barnier, the person in charge of Brexit negotiations, for this top position. That way the President of the third largest EU economy has been attempting to change the current procedure causing anger to the German leaders.

On the other hand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel outlined the significance of finding a “joint solution” at the Council summit. Daniel Caspary, the head of Ms Merkel’s CDU/CSU group in the European Parliament, also stressed that: “…I see a revisionist Mr Macron doing everything can to destroy European democracy… It is an approach that has nothing at all to do with the pro-European speeches of his in the beginning. We are fighting to ensure that the lead candidate process is maintained and Manfred Weber becomes president of the European commission.” Furthermore, CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer backed Mr Weber for the EC president post mentioning that “The CDU is behind Manfred Weber.”

G20 Osaka summit sets the scene ahead of EU summit

EU leaders who will be participating in the G20 summit which will take place in Osaka, Japan on Friday and Saturday are surely going to discuss about the next president of the European Commission and attempt to find a common solution and unanimity. More specifically, the French President and German Chancellor will hold intense talks on the sidelines of the summit together with Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, Guiseppe Conte, Theresa May, Mark Rutte and Pedro Sanchez who will also be attending the G20 summit.

Taking into consideration the above difficulties, the European Parliament is ready to provide an extension of 24 hours to the EU leaders and vote on the new parliament president next Wednesday instead of Tuesday if there is still no golden solution for the EU leadership roles on the extra-summit on Sunday evening.

All in all, it seems that there is too much at stake at the moment when EU leaders are unable to break the deadlock and EPP’s candidate Weber is heading to Berlin this evening to meet with Angela Merkel, the EPP president Joseph Daul and Germany’s ruling conservative party, CDU chief, Annagret Kramp-Karrenbauer, in order to talk through his candidacy and the possibility to defy Macron since the latter has decided not to back Weber as next EC president.

The time is now pressing the EU leaders who will have to compromise shortly on the best candidate for the next president of the European Commission ensuring that is the right person to draft EU laws, enforce EU treaties and negotiate international trade deals for the Old Continent.

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