Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Democratic families agree on the EU’s top jobs, leave the far-right out

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During their formal meeting, the first after the June European elections, the European Union leaders agreed to nominate the EPP member Ursula von der Leyen of Germany for a second five-year term as president of the European Commission. The Union’s 27 national leaders also agreed on the future chair of the European Council and the next chief of EU’s foreign policy.

“Mission accomplished! The European Council has delivered,” Charles Michel, President of the European Council, told reporters after the final agreement.

The European Parliament must confirm the nominations.

“Grateful to Leaders for endorsing my nomination for a second mandate,” Ursula von der Leyen posted on X.

“Delighted to share this moment with my friends Antonio Costa & Kaja Kallas. Now, I will seek confirmation from the European Parliament after presenting my political guidelines,” she added.

Portuguese premier António Costa, from the Party of European Socialists (PES), will chair the next European Council meetings.

“As President of the European Council, starting on December 1st, I will be fully committed to promoting unity between all 27 Member States and focused on putting on track the Strategic Agenda, which the #EUCO has approved today and will provide guidance to the European Union for the next five years,” wrote on X António Costa.

The Council also selected Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as the next High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President (HRVP) of the European Commission.

Kallas recognised this is an “enormous responsibility at this moment of geopolitical tensions”.

In a statement, she emphasised that “the war in Europe, increasing instability in our neighbourhood and globally are the main challenges for European foreign policy”.

“As HRVP, I will be at the service of our common interests. Europe should be a place where people are free, safe and prosperous,” concluded Kallas.

Different approaches from the ECR Prime Ministers

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni left the Council disappointed. After the June European elections, the narrative of an alleged spectacular rise of the far-right parties created great expectations for many ECR members. They hoped for a split between the democratic families and the capitulation of the EPP to their demands. While the Spanish Vox vehemently attacked Ursula von der Leyen, Meloni opted to negotiate with the EPP to give Italy a top job in the following European institutions. However, numbers didn’t favour the vast conservative and far-right camp.

The ECR has two Prime Ministers, Meloni and Petr Fiala of the Czech Republic. Interestingly, they had a different approach to the Council’s agreements.  

“The proposal formulated by the People’s Party, Socialists and Liberals for the new European summits is wrong in method and substance. I decided not to support it out of respect for the citizens and the indications from those citizens during the elections. We continue to work to give Italy the weight it deserves in Europe,” said Meloni after the EU’s heads of state meeting.

However, Meloni’s reaction was careful, polite, and not violent. Maybe this cannot exclude future ad hoc collaborations, mainly for the benefit of her country and party. According to sources, she abstained from the vote on von der Leyen while voting against the other two.

Petr Fiala, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, is among the most successful leaders in the EU. He leads his country after a populist past and cooperates with other democratic parties.

Also, Fiala is a conservative with moderate and liberal views.

On June 27th, he explained his country’s position in a post on X.

“The European Council is about to start a debate on the so-called top jobs in the EU. It is crucial for the Czech Republic that the distribution respects political and geographical balance. The names that have been proposed so far meet these criteria. Furthermore, I know all of them personally; they have a positive relationship with the Czech Republic, and I have very good experience working with them”.

After announcing the final agreement, Petr Fiala congratulated António Costa, Ursula von der Leyen and Kaja Kallas.

He posted on X, “I believe that our cooperation will benefit both the EU and the Czech Republic.”

A furious Orbán

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán left the Council angry. He hoped for a compact far-right-conservative alliance that would put the EU on its knees, but numbers are inexorable. He had all the time to realise that he was completely isolated in Europe. Unfortunately, he also managed to condemn Hungary to isolation.     

After the June elections, Orbán celebrated the far-right’s virtual victory and, consequently, the end of the EU.

“National conservative, sovereignist and Christian forces are on the rise all across Europe. We don’t represent #progressive ideas; we represent the people. We are the worst nightmare of the #Brussels bureaucrats. We will win the #EuropeanElections and #OccupyBrussels this June! #MakeEuropeGreatAgain #MEGA,” Orbán posted on X on June 21st.

However, he cannot explain how a Prime Minister that made his country’s role in building European policies insignificant can make Europe “great again”.

Leaving the Council, he told the journalists that the “European voters have been deceived”.

“The @EPP formed a coalition of lies with the left and the liberals. We do not support this shameful agreement! #EUCO,” a furious Orbán posted on X.

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