Von der Leyen’s Greediness Stagnates Negotiations for EU Top Jobs

Politics - June 24, 2024

The leaders of the European Union have failed to agree on name for the next President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council.  

So far there has been a series of forces stagnating the process, the most blatant of them being the European People’s Party’s (EPP) greediness in the negotiations for the top jobs of the European capital.  

The EPP’s attitude is deliberately alienating Conservative forces within the European Union, as well as betraying its marriage of convenience with the Socialists.  

Before the June 9 votes results had been fully in, current Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen had promised she would, once again, govern in coalition with the Socialist bloc.  

This was a blow to Conservative forces and even EPP voters who favoured a change in direction from the current European priorities.  

Von der Leyen’s move allegedly angered top ECR leaders, including the Italian Prime Minister, Ms. Giorgia Meloni, who has been excluded from the negotiations of Brussel’s top jobs, despite the European Conservative and Reformists’ (ECR) massive surge in MEPs after the European elections.  

This was further worsened by the leaked details about the EPP intentions for Council negotiations. Indeed, the EPP was allegedly planning to give the Council to Portugal’s former Prime Minister from that country’s Socialist Party, Antonio Costa.  

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the European Commission president within the next month.  

However, Von der Leyen has not yet fully secured the job. Though she does not need the backing of all EU leaders, her agenda setting power will be largely diminished if the ECR keeps being neglected the way it has since the European elections result came in.  

What Von der Leyen does need is 361 votes out of the 720 MEPs in the European Parliament to secure the Commission’s top job.  

The EPP and the S&D sum some 400 MEPs. But not all the votes from the Socialists are secured. More leaks about the negotiations have revealed Von der Leyen has suggested splitting the five-year term of the presidency of the European Council in two mandates of two and a half years, with Costa of the Socialists first, and then an EPP figure the second half of the European legislature. 

The current EU Council president, the Belgian Charles Michel, who is known to have significant differences with Von der Leyen is allegedly pushing for other candidates to preside the Commission.  

Some names that have allegedly floated from his office include the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, from Greece’s New Democracy Party (EPP), and Mette Frederiksen, the current Prime Minister of Denmark of the Social Democrats (S&D).  

The office of Michel, however, has denied rumors that the current Council president intents to sabotage Von der Leyen’s bid.  

The only name that is almost a done deal is Malta’s Roberta Metsola, who is set to continue in the top job of the European Parliament.  

On the other hand, Germany’s Von der Leyen is far from over navigating this political maelstrom. Her candidacy so far has proven to show division, even among its current allies.  

However, it is not expected there will be a major shift despite all the noise around the negotiations. So, it is unlikely the EPP will at this point heed the voices of Conservative forces. 

Despite this blatant exclusion of European Conservatives from the negotiating process, their larger share in the European Parliament, though not enough to steer, gives them enough power to sway the political direction of the Union.  

So, even if she is elected, Von der Leyen will not come out in a position of significant strength. Her power will be in checked by Europe’s Conservatives.  

Talks are set to resume in late June.