This could be the symbol of the dispute between the Heads of State and Government and the European Parliament over the claim of the top candidates of the European elections to the post of Commission President. After the parliamentary group leaders of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and the Greens reaffirmed this claim in Parliament on Tuesday, the heads of state and government met behind closed doors in the evening for election proof. Even the signals of the mobile phones were technically shielded to prevent any communication to the outside. The leaders could hardly have made it clearer, as they envisioned the process of selecting the successor of Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission President.
It should not even fall on Tuesday evening, a preliminary decision. EU Council President Donald Tusk plans to wrap up the staff package, which includes his successor and the future president of the European Central Bank, on 20 and 21 June. After the summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed exactly this: The EU wants to select a new Commission president by the end of June, and Tusk should hold talks.
But even that could be too ambitious, according to diplomats in Brussels. The end of August would still be early enough. One thing is clear after the European elections: the leading candidate of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber has not come closer to the goal of becoming President of the Commission. The desired alliance with Social Democrats, Liberals and Greens is currently not. Webers invitation to dinner on Monday have knocked out the tops of the factions, to give him no advantage.
Weber had “disqualified” for the chief post, says Pascal Canfin in the radio station France Inter. After the loss of votes of the CDU on Sunday Weber could not act like a “winner of the election”. Only in Germany, the voters could have voted for Weber, but there he had suffered losses. Canfin is not anyone. He is one of President’s closest staff Emmanuel Macron in the election campaign. In the Elysee Palace, the personnel question is formulated more diplomatically. In order to qualify for the EU top posts, it required a parliamentary majority and the approval of at least 21 heads of state and government. A top candidate can not only argue with his legitimacy.
Meanwhile, Macron is working on an alliance of Liberals and Social Democrats. On Tuesday afternoon, he met in Brussels at the invitation of the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel with the liberal Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, both Social Democrats. The participants understood themselves quite as representatives and negotiators of their party families, it said in Paris. The EPP be invited to join. But the era of the “grand coalition” is just as over as the dominance of the EPP. This must also be shown in the distribution of posts.
At the same time before a vote with Merkel Macron tried to convince the heads of government of the four Visegrad countries (V4) Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia of its strategy – an unusual process for the French, who has maintained tense relations with Eastern Europe. The Visegrad countries, in turn, have introduced Maros Sefcovic, the deputy president of the EU Commission from Slovakia, as the new Commission President. The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, however, contradicted corresponding representations. Diplomatic circles said that the V4 countries were ready to support another candidate in Macron, such as Brexit’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Sefcovic could then become external representative.