Agreement to reappoint Ursula von der Leyen as head of the European Commission

European Union (EU) leaders agreed at a summit on Thursday to grant Ursula von der Leyen a second term as head of the Commission and to entrust European diplomacy to a strong voice on Ukraine, Estonian Kaja Kallas.

The reappointment of the German conservative leader will have to be confirmed by an absolute majority of MEPs: the outcome of the vote, expected in mid-July, is uncertain. The usual coalition of conservatives, socialists and liberals in the European Parliament was weakened in the June elections by the strong rise of the far right.

To embody the face of EU diplomacy against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the heads of state and government have chosen Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas – a determined opponent of the Kremlin. This 47-year-old liberal will succeed Spaniard Josep Borrell.

Finally, they appointed former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa as the new President of the European Council, the body that brings together the Member States. A year after his resignation over a corruption case that ultimately appears to be poorly supported, this socialist, known for his skillful tactics and pragmatism, will succeed Belgian Charles Michel on December 1.

These three names were widely favored, with the die seemingly cast even before the Brussels summit, following the agreement reached Tuesday between six European leaders — including Frenchman Emmanuel Macron and German Olaf Scholz — belonging to the right-wing/social-democrat/centrist “grand coalition,” in the wake of the European elections.

The Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, had castigated a “shameful” arrangement upon arriving at the summit: “European voters have been deceived.” [The right] has formed a coalition of lies with the left and the liberals,” he had raged,

The head of the ultraconservative Italian government, Giorgia Meloni, left out of the negotiations between the three political groups, had denounced the actions of an “oligarchy” the day before in Rome.

On Thursday evening, she abstained on Ursula von der Leyen and voted against Kaja Kallas and Antonio Costa, according to a diplomatic source.

“Important portfolio”


A number of leaders had shown themselves anxious to spare her: if Giorgia Meloni’s support was not necessary – unanimity was not required, politically her voice counts.

“There is no Europe without Italy, and there is no decision without Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, that’s obvious”, assured the head of the Polish government, Donald Tusk, from the EPP (right).

Like Viktor Orban, Giorgia Meloni intends to weigh more on the choices of the future executive in Brussels, following the rise of the radical and extreme right during the European elections – in particular the ECR group of the Italian leader, which took third place from the centrist family of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, in the European Parliament.

Rome is demanding “at the very least” a vice-presidency of the European Commission, with an “important portfolio” to influence industrial and agricultural policy, according to its Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani.

This meeting of the Twenty-Seven is also taking place three days before the early legislative elections in France, for which the National Rally (far right) is widely expected to be ahead.

When asked whether this election “cast a shadow” on the EU, Viktor Orban considered on the contrary that it brought a “ray of sunshine”, believing that “great things can happen [in France] on Sunday”.

For his part, President Macron announced on Thursday during a meeting of his liberal allies his intention to reappoint Thierry Breton as French member of the European Commission, according to European sources: since 2019 he has been Commissioner for the Internal Market, a vast portfolio that includes digital technology and industry.

The leaders of the Twenty-Seven also endorsed on Thursday the “strategic agenda”, setting the priorities of the bloc for the next five years, focusing on security, defense, competitiveness and the fight against irregular immigration in particular.

Among the other key posts in the EU, the Maltese conservative Roberta Metsola appears favorite to be reappointed for a second term of two and a half years at the head of the European Parliament, following a vote by MEPs during the first plenary session following the June mid-July election in Strasbourg.

This article is originally published on ledevoir.com

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