Friday, Jul 19

EU leaders to pick new chief by considering gender equality

The national government leaders agreed to finalize their nominations at their next gathering due on June 20-21, in time for the new EU chamber’s first sitting due on July 2nd.
29.05.2019 - 12:12

European Union leaders engaged in a first skirmish on Tuesday over who should become the next chief of the European Commission, giving themselves a short deadline to agree on the bloc’s top jobs and a target of assigning half of them to women.

EU AGREE TO PICK NEW MR OR MS EUROPE NEXT MONTH

Chancellor Angela Merkel was upset with French President Emmanuel Macron’s public dismissal of Berlin’s preferred candidate, a center-right German lawmaker Manfred Weber, as the 28 national EU leaders bargained behind closed doors over the bloc’s new leadership for the next five years.

“The key for me is for the people at the most sensitive positions to share our project and be the most charismatic, creative and competent possible,” Macron told reporters as the summit ended in Brussels. “It is important for me to have gender balance, that we name two men and two women,” he added.

A bloc-wide election last week returned a European Parliament with a splintered center and gains by pro-EU liberals and Greens as well as eurosceptic nationalists and the far right, making agreeing a common agenda harder. Held once every five years, the European Union election means new people will take over key EU institutions, including the powerful executive Commission.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel described the race as searching for the next “Mr. or Ms. Europe”.

Stripped of their longtime combined parliamentary majority, the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the center-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) would no longer able to decide on the next Commission head alone in the new EU assembly.

They are looking for support from the liberal ALDE and the Greens, since the four groups together would command enough seats to approve or reject any nomination by the 28 heads.

The national government leaders agreed to finalize their nominations at their next gathering due on June 20-21, in time for the new EU chamber’s first sitting due on July 2nd.

“We agreed that it is essential for us to show we are capable of action and so we want by the June summit to have our proposal for the position of Commission president,” Merkel told a news conference. Merkel said Macron needed to be realistic and take into account the fact that the EPP, which has nominated Weber for the Commission, would remain the biggest group in the new chamber.