Europe’s future leaders were the main subject of the talks held during an informal dinner organised as part of the EU summit in Brussels following the weekends electoral results.
During Tuesday’s informal dinner, however, no names were mentioned, according to Tusk. “We did not discuss names tonight, only the process.”
Euronews reports how Jean-Claude Juncker’s replacement — who will have the top job in the EU — must first be nominated by the European Council, which is made up of leaders from all 28 member states. This particular summit pits rival states (Germany vs. France) and even regions (north vs. south) against one another and it all begins over an informal dinner hosted by Tusk.
The Council president on Tuesday also said gender balance was his “personal ambition” when it comes to Commission appointments. Tusk’s preference was also highlighted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he wanted two women and two men for the top four EU posts. This call could prove beneficial for current EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is the lead candidate with Macron’s liberal ALDE & Renaissance alliance.
The Financial Times reports that Angela Merkel has made an impassioned defence of the German candidate to head the European Commission, shielding him from attacks from France and Spain that exposed deep divisions over the EU’s future leadership.
Merkel has become increasingly dismayed at French president Emmanuel Macron’s thinly veiled criticisms of the Bavarian, whom he sees as lacking experience in national government. She pointedly reminded leaders that she was dismissed by her critics for the same reasons before taking office more than 14 years ago, according to officials briefed on the dinner.
“I would warn and caution against telling the parliament that those who only acquire experience in the parliament are not experienced people,” she said after the summit meeting.
“That’s not a path we should go down.” Her unusually strong intervention in support of Mr Weber, the so-called Spitzenkandidat of the conservative group that emerged with the most seats in Sunday’s European elections, is a significant early move in a month-long battle to select a new crop of presidents for the EU’s top institutions.