Negotiators sign preliminary deal for EU leadership positions

Centrist parties reach consensus on top EU posts

by Faruk Imamovic
Negotiators sign preliminary deal for EU leadership positions
© Getty Images

The six European Union leaders acting as negotiators for the main centrist parties have signed a preliminary deal on the distribution of top jobs in the bloc after elections in June.

The news was first published by the German news agency DPA, and later confirmed to Euronews by diplomatic sources.

The deal follows a previously reported trio of candidates: Ursula von der Leyen for President of the European Commission, António Costa for President of the European Council and Kaja Kallas for High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The package was already drawn up last week during an informal gathering of EU leaders, and finally got the green light in a conversation between Polish President Donald Tusk, Greek Kyriakos Mitsotakis, German Olaf Scholz, Spanish Pedro Sánchez, French Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Mark Rutte.

Tusk and Mitsotakis represented the center-right European People's Party (EPP); Scholz and Sánchez, Socialists and Democrats (S&D); and Macron and Rutte, the liberal group Renewal of Europe. The three parties are expected to work together to build a lasting coalition to secure von der Leyen's second term.

Officials in Brussels were interested in closing the discussion in a relatively quick manner due to the volatile geopolitical environment in the bloc. The lack of credible alternatives accelerated the process, which is essentially a game of trade to ensure political, geographic and gender balance.

"The negotiators of the three political groups have reached a consensus on a common position in accordance with the Treaties," a diplomat said, confirming the names.

The choice of top jobs must be ratified by all 27 leaders at a key summit later this week, during which they will also confirm the Strategic Agenda for the next five years.

Backroom deals

Giorgia Meloni of Italy, Peter Fiala of the Czech Republic and Viktor Orbán of Hungary, who are all outside the pro-European coalition, have previously complained about the way the three centrist groups negotiated leadership positions, reports Politico.

Hungarian populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán lashed out at the news that the six negotiators had already reached an agreement, saying: “EU top officials should represent every member state, not just leftists and liberals!”

Denying Orbán and other critics of Brussels’ authority seats at the negotiating table — despite gains in the June election — is based on pro-EU factions’ “ assumption that they alone own the project,” said Alemanno.

“This undemocratic way of proceeding may backfire spectacularly,” he added, “as it may alienate the ‘far-right’ parties and even unite them.” 

Victor Orban
Victor Orban© Getty Images/Marcos Brindicci

The decision is taken by a qualified majority, which means that the national veto does not apply. Still, Melona's weight in the European Council could be a factor in Thursday's face-to-face talks and push back the final announcement.

If they are eventually appointed, von der Leyen and Kallas will still have to undergo a hearing in the European Parliament. Meanwhile, Costa, a former prime minister of Portugal, will be automatically elected by his former colleagues.

Last week, the EPP surprised the Socialists when it asked to take over as president of the European Council after Costa finishes his two-and-a-half-year term. Euronews understands that this request has now been taken off the table, paving the way for the Portuguese socialist to lead the institution for five years.

Costa was involved in a corruption investigation that led to his resignation last year. Although he has not been formally charged, his involvement in irregular affairs has not yet been clarified. Costa has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.