Thursday

17th Oct 2019

EU six hold informal dinner on top jobs

  • Margrethe Vestager - the first female European Commission president in 60 years? (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Six leaders representing the three most-successful political blocs in the EU elections last month are meeting in Brussels on Friday (7 June) to start talks on Europe's top jobs.

The centre-right, still the biggest group despite haemorrhaging votes, is sending Croatian and Latvian prime ministers Andrej Plenkovic and Krisjanis Karins.

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  • German MEP Manfred Weber should get the post on paper after the centre-right won the most seats in the European Parliament election in May (Photo: European Parliament)

The centre-left, the second largest, but also bruised by falling support, is to be represented by Portugal's Antonio Costa and Spain's Pedro Sanchez.

The liberals, who won dozens of extra European Parliament (EP) seats, are hosting the informal dinner under Belgium's Charles Michel, with Dutch leader Mark Rutte also attending.

The meeting is the first follow-up to a top jobs summit and the EP elections in late May.

EU states have mandated the outgoing EU Council president, Donald Tusk, to consult the six men on who should be the next European Commission, EU Council, and European Parliament heads.

The EU foreign relations and European Central Bank posts are also up for grabs, with decisions due by 20 June.

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) or centre-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) ought to get the commission crown on paper.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has backed German MEP and EPP lead candidate Manfred Weber.

The S&D candidate, Dutch EU commissioner Frans Timmermans, could benefit from having Spain's Pedro Sanchez plead his case in Brussels, after Sanchez's party swept to victory on the national stage and said Madrid wanted to play a bigger role at the European level.

But he is fiercely opposed by Hungary and Poland after he led EU attacks on their abuse of rule of law at home.

And the liberals, who also have a heavy hitter, Rutte, on Tusk's panel, as well as behind-the-scenes support from French president Emmanuel Macron, say their EP performance means their candidate, Danish EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager, should go forward.

That would make her the first woman to lead the commission in its 60-year history after Tusk recently said women should get two out of the five top posts.

Three other women - Kristalina Georgieva (Bulgaria's World Bank chief), Christine Lagarde (the French head of the International Monetary Fund), and Dalia Grybauskaite (Lithuania's president) - are also in the running.

But so is Frenchman Michel Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, with Tusk adding that the geography and size of EU states were factors alongside political affiliation and gender balance.

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