After marathon talks ended without a compromise, EU leaders are meeting again to try and overcome a deadlock over key job nominations. The talks come as the newly elected European Parliament kicked off its first session.
European Union leaders gathered in Brussels on Tuesday for a third day of talks after they failed to come to an agreement on the bloc’s top jobs during a marathon 18-hour session the day before.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was entering Tuesday’s talks with “new creativity” and urged other leaders to be more open to compromise.
“I think that everyone understands that they need to move a bit” in order to achieve a result, she said. Her remarks come after Italy, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia opposed a possible compromise the day before.
The official start of Tuesday’s summit was delayed until the afternoon as European Council chairman Donald Tusk continued separate talks with leaders.
Leaders from the bloc’s 28 member-states have been in disagreement for weeks over naming a successor to outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Much of the impasse is centered on picking a nominee to succeed Juncker, who heads the EU’s powerful executive arm. The leaders also hope to name a new European Council president as well as a foreign policy chief.
This requires the approval of 21 of the 28 EU leaders, representing 65% of the bloc’s population. The top job nominations must also have a geographical and gender balance that represents both the smaller and larger member states.
Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands emerged as a surprise favorite for the top European Commission job
Timmermans ‘not acceptable’ for some EU states
Following talks yesterday, Dutch Social Democrat Frans Timmermans was favored to take the top European Commission post.
That option didn’t sit well with some EU member states, as Timmermans has been a vocal supporter of the refugee quota distribution system and threatened legal action in order to improve rule of law in Hungary and Poland.
“We want somebody on the presidency of the commission who doesn’t have a negative view on our region. Mr. Timmermans is not acceptable for us. That’s it,” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters as he arrived in Brussels.
Timmermans main challenger Manfred Weber, a German EU lawmaker with the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), could possibly end up being the speaker of the European Parliament. Going into the talks, Weber had been favored to succeed Juncker, but appears to have slipped in the rankings during negotiations.
- CANDIDATES FOR EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENTManfred Weber (EPP)The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) — the largest faction in the European Parliament — has picked Manfred Weber, its German parliamentary party leader. He has the backing of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Though considered the front-runner, Weber is little known on the international stage, and his language skills are considered poor.
European Parliament convenes
The talks in Brussels came as the European Parliament opened its first post-election session in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
The opening session was disrupted by some newly elected legislators from right-wing parties, Catalan independence supporters and others.
Some lawmakers with the Brexit Party were seen turning their backs while the EU’s anthem “Ode to Joy” was playing.
Once the 28 EU leaders make a final decision on the candidates for the top jobs, these must be approved by the European Parliament. Lawmakers are due to vote on a new leader for the European Parliament on Wednesday.
The new session follows elections in May that saw the bloc’s two traditional center-right and center-left parties lose votes, while the Greens and far-right parties saw solid gains.