Sat, Jun 22, 2019 - Page 7 News List

EU leaders deadlocked over Brussels’ top positions

AFP, BRUSSELS

European leaders on Thursday failed to agree on a new top team to lead efforts to reform their union for the next five years and postponed a decision for a least a week.

The 28 heads of government met for dinner after Brussels’ main political factions refused to fall into line behind a single choice to head the European Commission.

The successor to Jean-Claude Juncker at the head of the EU executive is the key leadership role in Brussels, and without a nominee, the leaders were also not able to agree the broader package of appointments, forcing them to call a crisis summit for June 30.

“The European Council has had a full discussion of nominations,” European Council President Donald Tusk said. “There was no majority on any candidate.

“The European Council agreed that there has to be a package reflecting the diversity of the EU. We will meet again on June 30,” Tusk added.

The new summit comes just two days before the new European Parliament begins its first session, and the leaders are determined to agree on key appointments before lawmakers choose their own speaker.

French President Emmanuel Macron said parliament’s “lead candidate” process for choosing a commission president is unworkable and that the 28 national leaders must decide.

“The names of the three ‘lead candidates’ have been ruled out,” Macron said. “They were tested out by Donald Tusk and he concluded that there is no majority to back these names.”

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the party political process, saying whichever name the leaders come up with would still have to be approved by a majority of members of the European Parliament in the assembly.

“Here it has emerged... that there is no majority for one of the top candidates of the political parties,” she said. “We naturally want a joint solution with the parliament.”

None of the leading names to have emerged during last month’s election have won consensus among four main parliamentary parties to replace Juncker as president of the EU’s executive arm.

“I note with satisfaction, amusement and, yes, pleasure that it seems it is not easy to replace me,” Juncker joked.

Other jobs up for grabs include speaker of the European Parliament, which will sit for the first time on July 2, a replacement for Tusk and foreign policy chief.

National leaders want to control the process and dole out the most senior jobs in a way that balances men and women, east and west Europe, small countries and large.

However, the results of last month’s European elections forced the main conservative, socialist, liberal and Green parliamentary blocs to form a majority coalition.

The parties, while working to draft a joint political program, have not united behind a particular package of candidates.

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