EU leaders to support von der Leyen for second term

2024-06-18 07:41:19China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

European Union leaders were on Monday expected to express their support for Ursula von der Leyen's reappointment as president of the European Commission for a second term, amid calls for continuity in the face of political uncertainty in key member states, according to diplomats close to discussions.

State representatives were due to convene in Brussels on Monday for an informal summit, marking the beginning of negotiations to determine the appointments for key roles within the bloc following recent European Parliament elections.

This includes deciding on the next European Commission president, European Council president, and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Monday's gathering was the first for the 27 member heads of state since European elections earlier this month saw far-right parties gain ground and prompt French President Emmanuel Macron to call snap elections.

The negotiations for top EU positions involve a complex balancing act, taking into account political affiliations, geographic diversity, and gender balance to secure broad support among the leaders.

Von der Leyen, the lead candidate for the center-right European People's Party, solidified her position in the recent European elections, where the party obtained 26 percent of the seats in the new European Parliament.

Following the elections, a consensus has emerged on potential candidates: von der Leyen for the European Commission president, Antonio Costa for the European Council president, and Kaja Kallas for the High Representative, according to Euronews.

"This is the direction of travel," a diplomat told the news website, speaking anonymously. "There's a clear interest in getting clarity and predictably quickly."

Another source, a senior EU diplomat who has spent the past week in discussions with representatives of key states, told the Financial Times newspaper the choice to continue with von der Leyen as president was unanimous. "Nobody is discussing any other outcome," said the official. "For her, the die is cast."

While a final decision on key EU positions was not expected to be reached during Monday's meeting, a formal agreement is anticipated at an official summit on June 27-28, with a parliamentary vote on the next president scheduled for the week of July 15.

"Everyone wants to use (Monday) night to send a crystal clear message ... so there's no doubt over what the final decision will be," a second senior EU diplomat involved in negotiations told the FT.

To win another term as president, von der Leyen must gain the support of more than half of the 27 EU member nations' leaders and secure a majority of 361 of 720 votes from members of the European Parliament.

The Guardian newspaper reported that Macron had favored replacing von der Leyen with Mario Draghi, the former Italian prime minister, but noted this position has now shifted due to the electoral gains for the far-right.

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