Still no deal on top European Union jobs despite all-night haggling

The parliament's battle for more power was over when Manfred Weber, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) lead candidate in the race for the EU commission presidency withdrew his candidacy late on Tuesday - making way for German minister Ursula von der Leyen to get the post.

The plan was endorsed by G20 leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but was met with opposition from EPP members including Ireland's Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar.

However, the role was not discussed by Tusk in talks with factions of the European Parliament and one diplomat said Merkel had asked for the post to be decided later.

Although the fate of the EU's institutions is now in the hands of the EU's 28 leaders, the issue could also be put to a vote in the Council, where a candidate needs the support of at least 21 countries that represent at least 65 percent of the EU's population.

Meanwhile, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has called for Eastern European politicians to be better represented in EU top positions. "If necessary the talks will continue at breakfast on Monday", Mr Tusk says.

Also in the running for the EU's top job were Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager of the liberal alliance, French MEP and EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier, Belgium's liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel, Bulgarian World Bank head Kristalina Georgieva, and outgoing Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. "Our position is the defense of our Spitzkandidat, we defend Frans Timmermans as European Commission President". On the other hand, each candidate needs ultimately, the majority in the Parliament.

German parliamentary adviser Tobias Teuscher told Reuters that European Council President Donald Tusk has proposed giving the post to the Socialist and Democrats political bloc, of which Timmermans was the lead candidate in May European Parliament elections.

"An agreement is complicated effectively because the positions have not changed", one source close to the negotiation said, adding, however, that some sort of deal should be sealed Monday.

It's through this system that Jean-Claude Juncker was elected - the current European Commission President who now relishes in the difficulty of replacing him.

Italy faces imminent action from the Commission - where Mr Timmermans is now deputy head - over its high debt. Should these nations gain the support of Italy and its anti-establishment populist government in seeking to block Timmermans, while the rest of the European Union ends up supporting his candidacy, then the United Kingdom would be left in the unenviable position of casting the deciding vote (via a qualified majority voting system).

According to Babis, leaders of the Visegrad group (V4) countries, namely Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, also opposed Timmermans being the nominee. Besides, some centre-right heads of government (Croatia, Latvia and Cyprus) were opposed to proposing a social democrat, given that the EPP came out of the European elections as the victor.

'We give an image of Europe that isn't serious. "That's it", Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters as he arrived at the European Union headquarters in Brussels.

"The vote scheduled for Wednesday could bring considerable changes to the package deal", the European Union diplomat said.

  • Leroy Wright


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