Thu, Jul 04, 2019 - Page 7 News List

EU nominates candidates for top jobs

‘GROTESQUE’:Some European lawmakers criticized the bloc’s leaders for choosing the candidates behind closed doors, saying it is not what European citizens deserve


German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen attends a Cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

After three days of arduous negotiations, EU leaders on Tuesday broke a deadlock and nominated German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen to become the new president of the bloc’s powerful executive arm, the European Commission, one of two women named to top EU posts for the first time.

In a series of tweets, European Council President Donald Tusk said that Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel would take over from him in the fall.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde was proposed as president of the European Central Bank, while Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell was nominated to become EU foreign policy chief, meaning he would be charged with supervising the Iran nuclear deal, among other duties.

Only Michel can take up his post without other formalities. The others, notably Von der Leyen — who would take over from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for the next five years — must be endorsed by the European Parliament.

The parliament met yesterday and elected an Italian Social Democrat, former journalist David Sassoli, as its new president, filling the final top EU job.

He won the absolute majority of ballots he needed at the second round of voting

“It is important that we were able to decide with great unity today, and that is important because it’s about our future ability to work.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters on Tuesday after the nominations — decided away from the cameras and media in a long series of meetings — were made public.

Several lawmakers have already objected to the leaders’ package of nominations and it remained to be seen whether the parliament would flex newfound muscles following the massive turnout for EU-wide elections in May.

Party leaders have said the vote has brought the assembly — the EU’s only elected institution — even more democratic legitimacy.

“This backroom stich-up after days of talks is grotesque,” Greens group leader Ska Keller said, describing the nomination process as “party power games.”

“After such a high turnout in the European elections and a real mandate for change, this is not what European citizens deserve,” Keller said.

Juncker, who steps down on Oct. 31 as head of the commission, which proposes and enforces EU laws, conceded that “it won’t be easy in parliament.”

Tusk said “it was worth waiting for such an outcome” and that he would do his best to explain to what could well be a tetchy parliament today how the nominations were made and what thought processes went into the move.

“It’s always a huge question mark. This is why we have parliaments,” Tusk said.

Von der Leyen would be the first woman in the commission job, and Merkel said this is “a good sign.”

So would Lagarde and she would serve for up to eight years if her nomination is endorsed.

This story has been updated since it was first published.

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