Road to EU 2024

EU Top Jobs: The Negotiation on von der Leyen’s Second Term

June 2024
By Ilaria Donatio

No agreement on appointments has been reached, but progress in the “right direction” has been made, Michel emphasized. Furthermore, he stated, “It is our duty to make a decision on the appointments by the end of June”. Michel was referring to the European Council meeting scheduled for next week on June 27 and 28.

The Confrontation between PPE and S&D
Before the dinner between EU leaders on the top jobs of the European institutions, there was a confrontation between the negotiators of the two main political groups: the Popular Party with Polish Prime Minister Tusk and Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis, and the Social Democrats with German Chancellor Scholz and Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez. The negotiators from the Liberals, including French President Macron and outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Rutte, also joined them.

“No” to ECR
A common point among the six negotiators is the rejection of a broad alliance with the ECR conservatives led by Giorgia Meloni. Scholz clearly stated: “It is clear that there should be no support in Parliament for a Commission president who relies on right-wing and right-wing populist parties.” Tusk, on the other hand, opted for a more elaborate formulation: “It is not my task to convince Meloni; we already have a majority with the PPE, Liberals, Socialists, and other small groups, and my feeling is that it is already more than sufficient.”

The Four Positions and Meloni’s Issue with the Approach
There are four positions to be filled: the President of the Commission, the European Council, and the Parliament, as well as the role of High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

Although no definitive decisions were expected yesterday, it was certainly “an opportunity for an in-depth and transparent exchange, to share priorities, expectations, and hopes,” Michel said. However, Meloni contested the approach to the discussion, which she believed started with names and not the “signals from the European elections.”

von der Leyen’s Second Term
From the outset, there was clear convergence on von der Leyen for a second term and Metsola for two and a half years as President of the Parliament (which, however, is autonomous in its vote), with a handover to the Socialists for the second half of the term.

However, the Popular Party came to the table with an additional request: greater recognition considering the election results that gave them 190 MEPs, compared to 136 for the S&D and 80 for Renew Europe. Therefore, the PPE wants the presidency of the European Council for two and a half years, which until now was intended for the Socialists: a handover similar to that in the European Parliament.

But the Socialists disagree and demand that their candidate, former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, cover both periods. The current Prime Minister of Lisbon, Luis Montenegro (PPE), said on the sidelines of the dinner that “it is important” that Europe “does not enter a deadlock over the appointment of EU leadership.”

The intention, therefore, is to proceed swiftly, but the agreement must be on all four names.