Thursday, June 13, 2024

EU’s top diplomat race gets very crowded

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An EU diplomat concurs. “What the EEAS [the EU’s diplomatic corps] needs is more money, better people and better HRVPs,” the insider, who was granted anonymity to discuss internal thinking, added.

Still, several politicians from small member countries see the value of getting that job. Baltic countries, starting with Estonia, want to have a larger say on EU foreign policy, especially a tougher approach to future relations with Russia. Others close to the end of their domestic political careers want to prolong their position by moving into the EU machinery.

At a conference in Florence earlier this month, Borrell diplomatically avoided any question on who he thought was fit to fill his shoes, saying that it’s not his job “to pick out my successor.” 

With Borrell set to step down during the top jobs reshuffle in the wake of the EU election, several former heads of government have their eyes on the prize.

If the position does end up going to one of them, it will be the first time since the role was created in 2009 that the job will belong to a former head of government. The other difference with the past is that the job has always been in the hands of big countries (the U.K., Italy and Spain). The fact that this time it could well go to a smaller country is seen as a positive development by many diplomats since bigger states usually also have bigger agendas.

In the EU system, the most senior of the top jobs is Commission president and because the European People’s Party is expected to remain the largest group after the election, it will get that post. The socialists, as part of the current coalition and likely to finish second, will nominate a Council president. Renew, the other part of the current coalition, is expected to take the HRVP job.

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