The end of Spitzenkandidat: EU leaders concluded unexpectedly on EU top jobs

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, received Ursula von der Leyen, German Federal Minister for Defence.
Date: 09/04/2015. Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont. Photographer: Georges Boulougouris. © European Union, 2015. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

The EU leaders finally came to a conclusion after three long days of tough negotiations where German Chancellor’s suggestion to appoint Frans Timmermans as next European Commission president has been turned down by Italy and eastern countries. The solution was given with the nomination of a woman and particularly German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

But the gender equality tactics continued last night when the EU leaders chose Christine Lagarde, the French managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as the first female European Central Bank (ECB) president. They thus unlocked the critical situation on deciding about the EU top jobs. As regards the remaining senior positions, Belgian prime minister Charles Michel was selected to be the next president of the European Council while Josep Borrell, Spanish former foreign minister, the new foreign policy chief.

Unexpected EC nomination

The fierceful three-day negotiations ended with an unexpected outcome. The Spitzenkandidat or “lead candidate” procedure has not been respected by the bloc’s leaders rejecting the nomination of Manfred Weber as the next EC president and for the first time in the history of the European institutions there are expected to be two women in the leading positions of the European Commision and the European Central Bank.

However, the EU leaders found common grounds on Ursula von der Leyen after having rejected Angela Merkel’s proposal to nominate Dutch Frans Timmermans to the most powerful job in Brussels. Italy, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia opposed to that suggestion insisting that Mr Timmermans was not suitable for this job. More specifically, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said yesterday that: “We have said that we do not want Mr Timmermans as European Commission president for various reasons. It is unacceptable for us, it would be total catastrophe.”

Germany and France support Ursula von der Leyen

The two most powerful economies in the Old Continent have been struggling to find a compromise and the right candidates for the EU top jobs. After marathon talks, it seems that Germany and France endorse the result even if it was not the one initially proposed. Donald Tusk mentioned after the conclusion of the summit that Germany had abstained on Ms Von der Leyen’s nomination over coalition issues but the German Chancellor had backed her up. In detail, Angela Merkel said: “It is important that we were able to decide with great unity today, and that is important because it’s about our future ability to work.” French President Emmanuel Macron pointed that the nominations were “the fruit of a deep Franco-German entente”.

Moreover, the selection of Ms Von der Leyen to replace Jean-Claude Juncker was also supported by Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Without the consent of the Visegrad 4 bloc, Ursula von der Leyen would most likely have had the fate of the Dutch social democrat Frans Timmermans. Hence, it seems that the EU balances are now shifting and Germany and France are not imposing their will to the other member states as in the past.

EU top jobs candidates

The EU leaders not only managed to nominate the next EC president but also appointed the remaining EU top positions. Christine Lagarde is going to be the successor of Mario Draghi as head of the ECB leaving Washington and the International Monetary Fund where she has been exercising her duties for the last eight years. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar mentioned after the female nominations: “That’s a very important statement that Europe leads on gender equality. It might have taken three days, but it’s a good outcome overall”.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel was chosen to lead the European Council in the place of Donald Tusk whereas Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell will become high representative for foreign policy. However, the nominations of the EC President, the European Council President and the EU foreign foreign policy chief will have to be corroborated by the European Parliament which convenes today to elect its President.

All in all, the long duration of the summit where tough negotiations took place between the EU heads of state, combined with the extreme pressure to reach an agreement has showed that Germany and France are not the only players in the EU arena.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Trade Barriers Report: EU continues to open up markets outside Europe in midst of rising protectionism

EU recovery and long-term budget: Leaders must do better

Economy and living standards of Gaza ‘eviscerated’ by crippling blockade – UN trade and development report

168 hours left for MEPs – ECOFIN Council to deliver a Banking Union

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “We need more Schengen but reinforce control!”, France’s Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron emphasises from Davos

DR Congo: Restore internet services as ‘a matter of urgency’, urges UN expert

Parmesan cheese on shelves in Italy (Copyright: European Union, 2014 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Daniela Giusti)

CETA at risk again: Italy says it won’t ratify EU-Canada trade deal over product protection fears

If Macron defies Britain about the banks, Paris and London to clash over ‘La Manche’

How to get ageing populations to invest in their health

In post-COVID Latin America, investment in infrastructure can bring back tourism – and rebuild the economy

This Canadian company transforms plastic waste into building materials

Eurozone closer to a deflation – stagnation trap

UN chief calls for ‘far greater support’ for Cyclone Idai response

EU budget 2021-2027: Commission calls on leaders to set out a roadmap towards an autumn agreement

Reinforcing EU border security: Visa-exempt travelers will be pre-screened

UN chief calls for ‘green and clean’ development in message for Africa Industrialization Day

Court of Auditors: MEPs back five members

Switzerland fast-tracks emergency aid for small businesses weathering COVID-19

Brexit kick-off: a historic day for the EU anticlockwise

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

Attack on Saudi facilities risks dragging Yemen into ‘regional conflagration’: UN Envoy

The EU to fight cross-border tax evasion with a toothless directive

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

China in my eyes

We are stronger than this pandemic (COVID-19)

Will satellites destroy our view of space?

US resolution to condemn activities of Hamas voted down in General Assembly

Final turnout data for 2019 European elections announced

Can the EU assume the mantle of global leadership?

Global Compact on Refugees: How is this different from the migrants’ pact and how will it help?

Is Germany closer to Russia than the West? Nord Stream II and Iran count more

8th Euronest Assembly: the future of relations with Eastern partners

5 ways for business leaders to win in the 2020s

Trade in digital services is booming. Here’s how we can unleash its full potential

Businesses, governments and consumers to implement a more climate-friendly approach to #BeatPlasticPollution on World Environment Day 2018

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

Sweden is fighting loneliness by housing older and younger generations together

‘World’s deadliest sea crossing’ claimed six lives a day in 2018: UN refugee agency

In wake of ‘collapsed’ agreement, new wave of violence threatens millions in Syria’s Idlib

The ‘abuse of food relief in Yemen’ must end now

Eurozone economy desperately needs internally driven growth

Listen to the future – how 26 youth-led organizations are supercharging the UN’s Global Goals

Yemen: Committee brings warring parties to the table in Hudaydah, builds on ceasefire

Healthcare workers’ safety: a forgotten necessity

5 things you might not know about forests – but should

2021-2027 EU Budget: €378,1 billion to benefit all regions

Key economic forum in Russia: New technology a ‘vector of hope’ but also ‘a source of fear’ says Guterres

Ireland: prepare now for rising fiscal pressures, external risks

Bilbao’s city parks offer brain-training games for the elderly

Primary Healthcare: Back to the Basics

In Mozambique, it’s ‘a matter of the heart’ says Guterres, lauding the cyclone-struck nation’s ‘undeniable moral authority’

Egypt: The road to hell paved with western advices for democracy

UN agencies launch emergency plan for millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants

COVID-19 has disrupted cybersecurity, too – here’s how businesses can decrease their risk

Three ways the world must tackle mental health

Water reuse: Commission proposes measures to make it easier and safer for agricultural irrigation

China’s Ambassador to the EU Zhang Ming wishes to Brussels a Happy 2019 Year of the Pig

A Sting Exclusive: “Cybersecurity: Why consumer products must be looked at urgently”, by BEUC’s Deputy Director General

These countries have the most doctors and nurses

Commission’s report shows that targeted investment and robust digital policies boost Member States’ performance

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s