The bloc’s heads of state and government are back in Brussels to give it another try to break the deadlock in negotiations as the European Parliament deadline for the election of its new president, hangs over their heads.
Failing to reach a decision on the first 20 hours of discussion since Sunday afternoon, the leaders need to deliver in their European Commission president pick quickly, along with the European parliament head, the foreign policy chief and the new president of the European Council, at an extra session that was due to resume at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, after a series of parallel meetings took place on Tuesday morning. However, another at least three-hour delay was announced.
As for the names on the table, Dutch Socialist and current First vice-president of the Commission, Frans Timmermans, was thought to be the frontrunner as the meeting closed yesterday, yet the tide seems to be changing further against him.
The latest scenario circulating on the basis of the European People’s Party (EPP) dominance at the European elections and their unwillingness to let go of the Commission’s top job, sees a German at the top of the Commission, and the European Central Bank (ECB) being headed by the IMF chief, France’s Christine Lagarde.
The new, German candidate, for the Commission’s Presidency came after extensive remarks by leaders on the need for gender balance as they entered the European Council building on Tuesday, and is none other than Germany’s defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen. A name that up till now was not on the table to assume Jean-Claude Juncker’s position. According to a media report, the Visegrad 4 (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), may also move to support the German.
At the same time, World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva’s bid still holds, with the EPP leaders that oppose Timmermans’ candidacy still considering her, even if the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov disapproves the plan, as both names fulfil both gender and EPP criteria.
The current package is moving forward at the moment with the outgoing Belgian prime minister Charles Michel, a liberal, replacing Donald Tusk as the European Council president, and Maros Sefcovic, the current Energy Commission Vice President, and a Socialist from Slovakia, tipped to take over as the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief replacing Federica Mogherini.
The European Parliament is looking at a split term with the first 2.5 years served by the EPP Spitzenkandidat, Manfred Weber and the second half by a Socialist candidate. This scenario would also bring the Socialist Spitzenkandidat, Frans Timmermans at the key position of the EU Industry-Economy Commissioner and another Socialist from Spain and a woman, Nadia Calviño will occupy Günther Oettinger’s EU Budget portfolio at the European Commission.