EU summit ends in deadlock over top job candidates

Monitoring Desk

BRUSSELS: After hours-long horse trading at the two-day EU summit in Brussels, European leaders have still failed to come to a consensus on who should take the top jobs in the bloc following the May elections, with the meeting being also marred by lack of unanimity on the 2050 carbon neutrality goal.

The summit, which opened on Thursday, had a strong agenda, such as Russia sanctions, Turkey, climate change, global security and other issues. Yet the main point was to discuss those best equipped to take over senior posts in the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament.

In the early hours of Friday, European Council President Donald Tusk finally said: “There was no majority on any candidate … [The council] will meet again on the 30th of June.”

Political Wrangling Over Top Jobs 

The most important position up for grabs is the replacement of Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission. Manfred Weber, a member of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, is still defended by Germany while the other countries still say no. Berlin may be raising the stakes to get another candidate, but still a Christian Democrat.

French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, wants to see at the helm a Liberal and preferably a woman, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. He, however, says that he has several proposals to make. The Social Democrats stick to their candidate — Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the present commission.

Whether the EU nations will agree on three main names by 30 June is still an open question.

At the final press conference on Friday, Tusk said: “Sometimes I feel that the [nomination] process is too transparent to be effective. I have the impression that the public knows more about the candidates than me. I have nothing new to communicate.”

If No Unity ob Names, What Else?

Deferring the nomination issues to the next summit, the European Council adopted the EU’s strategic agenda for 2019-2024, outlining its main goals in five general statements that are still to be filled in terms of substance.

What concerns the budget for the next five years, no final decision has been made yet.

“The European Council welcomed the work done under the Romanian Presidency and took note of the various elements of the MFF [Multiannual Financial Framework] package. It called on Finland’s Presidency to pursue the work and to develop the Negotiating Box. On that basis the European Council will hold an exchange of views in October 2019, aiming for an agreement before the end of the year,” an official statement said.

The decision was therefore delayed until fall.

Leaders then proceeded with discussing climate, disinformation, the long-term EU budget and international relations, including Russia and Turkey. (Sputnik)