21st Sep 2017

EU no closer to consensus on names for top jobs

  • EU leaders will gather in Brussels on Thursday evening to discuss the nominations (Photo: EUobserver)

One day ahead of an EU summit to agree the names for two new posts designed to make the European Union more coherent on the international stage, the nomination process remains in disarray.

The Swedish EU presidency has been trying to whittle down the list to two possible candidates - one each for the president of the European Council and EU foreign policy chief - using exhausting rounds of telephone diplomacy.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But the numerous factors which have to be taken into account when making an EU decision of this kind mean that the two political jobs, as well as a third, seldom mentioned but powerful civil servant job, the secretary general of the council, have to mesh along political, national and geographic lines.

The complexity, which has been likened to trying to solve a Rubik's Cube, has resulted in the list for both jobs appearing to get longer as the summit approaches, rather than shorter.

On Tuesday (17 November), Madrid announced that Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos was in the running for the post of top diplomat. His name had previously not been publicly mentioned on the roster of possible contenders, which also includes former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema.

Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy is still portrayed as the favourite to get the presidency post. But other names including the leaders of Luxembourg and the Netherlands remain on the putative list. Some diplomats suggest that ex-UK prime minister Tony Blair, whose chances were seen as next to nil last month, is not yet completely out of the running.

At the moment, member states appear to agree that the EU presidency post should go to someone from the centre-right while the foreign policy job should go to a centre-left politician.

But adding another criterion to the mix, several women politicians have complained that women are not being mentioned as serious contenders for any of the posts

"It is a lie and we should all protest against that because it implies that somehow talent was distributed only to those with one kind of chromosome," former Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga told The Times.

The whole process has been further complicated by its secret nature. Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt has admitted that no serving prime minister wants to publicly say they are interested in the presidency job unless they are sure to get it, fearing a political backlash at home if they return empty-handed.

The Swedes concede the nomination process has unravelled somewhat as consensus seems remains far off on the eve of the summit. The Swedish EU presidency has let it be known that it has ordered breakfast for EU leaders on Friday morning if no agreement can be found at dinner on Thursday evening.

The threat to extend summits for as long as possible is a familiar tactic ahead of meetings that look like they are going to be contentious, however.

Some diplomats have said that Mr Reinfeldt's aim to get consensus on two names ahead of the leaders' meeting was always going to be difficult.

"You have to get them [EU leaders] around the table first. That's when you're going to see some movement towards agreement," one diplomat remarked to this website.

Spain arrests Catalan officials

Armed Spanish police have arrested Catalan officials and seized ballots for an independence referendum, prompting appeals for EU help.


The rise of the German alt-right

Ahead of Sunday's German elections, a growing number of anti-establishment, anti-Islam websites have created an echo chamber for the radical right.


The rise of the German alt-right

Ahead of Sunday's German elections, a growing number of anti-establishment, anti-Islam websites have created an echo chamber for the radical right.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan leader decries Spanish government intervention
  2. Hungary set for fresh campaign against public enemy Soros
  3. Iceland's PM leads in polls ahead of October elections
  4. Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds cancel referendum
  5. Ireland to hold referendum on ownership of water
  6. Report: May to offer €20bn as Brexit bill in Florence speech
  7. Merkel poised to win election despite CDU dip in polls
  8. EU unveils cyber security ideas

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressCommends the German Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  3. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  4. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  7. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  8. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  9. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  10. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  11. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  12. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted