The negotiations to choose those who will occupy the most relevant positions of the European Community institutions were, moreover, marathonic and surprising. After the reconfiguration of the European Parliament (EP), it was the turn of the European Council (EC) to determine the candidate to preside over the European Commission, the Executive of the European Union (EU). In principle, the choice should be between those who occupied the heads of the parliamentary groups that obtained the majority in the last European elections; however, the so-called spitzenkandidaten were relegated.
The favorite to occupy the ownership of the Commission, the Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans , was vetoed by the Visegrad Group (made up of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), for being the official behind the investigations against Poland and Hungary for alleged violations of the rule of law and the fundamental values of the EU. The other two natural candidates, the German conservative Manfred Weber and the Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager , were also ruled out in the negotiations for not having enough support. With this lack of support for the Spitzenkandidaten, the EC reduces power and authority to Parliament and European parties.
The agreement to appoint the candidate for president of the Council came when the name of the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen was put on the table . Conservative von der Leyen is a party partner of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her right arm in the coalition government she maintains in Germany. Those who did not take the Council’s decision well were, precisely, Merkel’s allies , the Social Democrats, who questioned the way she was elected by jumping into the Spitzenkandidaten. Thus, both Merkel and von der Leyen they will have to negotiate with all their allies, both at European and German level, so that the European Parliament votes in favor of the Minister in mid-July. The first step will be to agree on a common agenda with the Greens, to capture their votes and try to balance those of the liberals and social democrats who have been lost by the way in which the Council elected the Democrat.
The clear winner of the European negotiations was French President Emmanuel Macron , who put von der Leyen’s name on the table to unlock the negotiations of the European Council; In addition, he managed to place Christine Lagarde at the head of the European Central Bank and Belgian Charles Michel as President of the Council itself. As if that were not enough, his favorite to preside over the Commission, the Danish Vestager , will be vice president of the Commission itself, as will Timmermans . Finally, European diplomacy remained in the hands of the Spanish Josep Borrel , whose suitability for the position has been questioned by his age, is 72 years old.
While steps were taken in favor of gender parity, regional representation was neglected. Eastern Europe will not have representatives at the head of the community institutions. It is clear that Merkel is losing power inside and outside Germany. Parliament also saw its influence and power reduced in the decision-making process of the Council. The Greens, for their part, will sell their support to von der Leyen dearly , and the block consisting of liberals, social democrats and conservatives in the EP could be affected.
Ricardo Solano Olivera, MSc.
Column originally published at https://laopinion.de/2019/07/09/la-desorganizacion-de-la-union-europea/.