Road to EU 2024

EU top jobs, European Parties’ chess game

June 2024
By Gianni Pittella

The candidacy of Ursula von der Leyen for the presidency of the European Commission is in a critical phase due to the cross-vetoes among the European political groups. During the recent informal dinner in Brussels, it was not possible to reach an agreement because the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are trying to negotiate key positions in a single package but cannot find a consensus on the presidency of the European Council. The EPP does not accept the candidacy of Antonio Costa for a full five-year term and instead proposes a rotating presidency.

Meanwhile, Ursula von der Leyen, who fears rebellious votes in the European Parliament, especially from the EPP group, is seeking the support of Giorgia Meloni, as evidenced by the unusual delay in publishing the rule of law report. However, Macron and Scholz are strongly opposed to including the Italian prime minister in the majority.

Donald Tusk, the current strongest leader of the EPP, emphasized that the majority should remain composed of the EPP, S&D, and Liberals.

Giorgia Meloni has tried to delay negotiations until July 8, hoping to negotiate from a position of strength after the French elections. However, Macron and Charles Michel brought forward the European Council to June 27/28, putting Meloni in a difficult position. Not voting for the Commission would politically isolate Meloni in Europe.

This situation of uncertainty reflects the three interpretations of the election outcome mentioned by Sergio Fabbrini in Il Sole 24 Ore last Sunday: the first interpretation is that the European right-wing parties emerged victorious, having seen an increase in their members in the new European Parliament; the second is that the victory actually belongs to the pro-European parties that have always governed the Union, as their majority, though weakened, is confirmed; the third is the crisis of the Franco-German axis, driven by individual crises in each of the two countries, with France facing the rise of the anti-system right, which no longer proposes leaving the EU, and Germany facing a sharp electoral division between the west and the east.

How will these difficulties influence the assignment of key roles in European institutions? We will find out in the coming weeks.