Published: Tue, July 02, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Plenković: Timmermans as Commission Chief Has No Support from EPP

Plenković: Timmermans as Commission Chief Has No Support from EPP

Prime among them is the post of president of the EU's powerful executive arm, the European Commission, now held by Jean-Claude Juncker, and the president of the European Council, where incumbent Mr. Tusk chairs summits and helps set the EU's political agenda.

That means that divisions between political groupings have only deepened, making it harder than ever to balance political, geographic and gender considerations when assigning top jobs.

European Union leaders have failed to decide as to who the next president of the European Commission should be. The objective of this meeting was to find a compromise on the nominations to positions of high responsibility in the EU (top jobs), whose mandates came to an end with the European elections on 26 May.

The 28 leaders are aiming to agree candidates for president of the European Commission, president of their own Council and a foreign policy chief.

Other leaders from the same political family disagreed.

The start of the summit has been postponed from 18.00 to 19.00 to give the European Union leaders more time for consultations over the candidacy for the EC presidency position, European Union sources told PAP on Sunday.

Disagreement is mainly over who will take over as European Commission president to succeed the outgoing Jean-Claude Juncker.

Talks dragged late into the night after it emerged that Dutch Socialist Frans Timmermans did not have the support of the European People's Party (EPP) to become European Commission President. The liberals (Renew Europe, ex-ALDE), for their part, made a "Team Europe" with a number of names, including the Dane Margrethe Vestager.

Timmermans, 58, an Anglophile and critic of the "borderline racist" past comments of the Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson, had been proposed by Merkel as the compromise candidate who could command a majority in the European parliament.

EU leaders were also meant to choose the next president of the European Central Bank (ECB), but that decision seems now likely to be postponed for lack of consensus. "From the EPP point of view, the vast majority of EPP prime ministers don't believe that we should give up the presidency of the Commission quite so easily without a fight", he said.

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Merkel said that "politics is attempting to implement what is possible, and sometimes that takes time".

However, no majority shaped behind Timmermans at the previous European Council meeting on 20 and 21 June.

"The proposal that circulated in the media in the morning has no support from heads of state or government and the EPP presidency".

"It will continue", Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters after the summit broke off, and leaders left, many without saying much to reporters.

The outcome of this will serve as a basis for the dialogue towards the European Council.

But leaders from Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic publicly pushed it back as they arrived at the European capital.

The compromise Merkel and Macron forged on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday called for Dutch Social Democrat Frans Timmermans to head the commission, rather than his conservative rival German Manfred Weber.

Preben Aamann, spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk, said on Twitter that Tusk suspended the meeting and will reconvene it on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. local time (0900GMT).

But the assembly has insisted that only the lead candidates from parties that ran in last month's elections should be eligible for the post.

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