Published: 12:44, June 18, 2024
EU summit ends without agreement on top jobs
By Reuters
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrives for a meeting of the EPP party ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, June 17, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

BRUSSELS - European Union leaders ended a discussion on who should take the bloc's top jobs for the next five years without agreement on Monday, aiming instead for a decision at a summit next week.

The leaders' meeting was the first since the European Parliament election, which saw gains for the center-right and right-wing nationalists, but humiliating defeats for French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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Over dinner in Brussels, the EU's 27 national leaders discussed who should run the powerful European Commission executive body, who should chair their European Council meetings and who should take the post of foreign policy chief.

Von der Leyen remains in pole position to stay on as European Commission president, buoyed by gains in the June 6-9 elections for her centre-right European People's Party

They had been widely expected to nominate Ursula von der Leyen of Germany for a second term as European Commission chief, Portuguese ex-premier Antonio Costa as Council president and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as top diplomat.

But the current European Council president, Charles Michel, said they needed more time.

"It was a good conversation, (it) goes in the right direction, I think. But there is no agreement tonight," he told reporters after the dinner.

Michel said pan-European political parties had made proposals about the posts and more work would be needed to reach an agreement. He did not elaborate on the proposals.

Pole position

Von der Leyen remains in pole position to stay on as European Commission president, buoyed by gains in the June 6-9 elections for her centre-right European People's Party.

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Thirteen of the 27 EU leaders are from parties belonging to the EPP. With French and German support too, she would have the qualified majority she requires to be nominated.

France had previously weighed alternatives to von der Leyen, but with a snap parliamentary election called by Macron from June 30, the government now prefers EU stability. Germany has made clear it backs von der Leyen for another term.

A trio of von der Leyen, Costa - a veteran socialist - and liberal Kallas would ensure a political and geographical balance among the top posts.

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The leaders are due to make a formal decision at a summit on June 27-28. Von der Leyen would still then need backing from the European Parliament, which votes in its first session from July 16.

The full 27-member Commission, including the foreign policy chief, also needs parliamentary support.

The leaders also discussed the next five-year legislative cycle, with a stress on common values, defense and economic competitiveness. They are due to confirm their "strategic agenda" guidance at the end-June summit.

The leaders should shortly have a report by Mario Draghi, former Italian premier and president of the European Central Bank, on boosting the EU's economic prospects. In a speech on Friday, he said the bloc needed cheaper energy and a capital markets union to steer private savings towards investment.