A shortlist for the top jobs – check. But at what cost?

2 min read

If everything goes according to plans in the autumn, then Ursula von der Leyen will be the President of the European Commission for another term. Portugal’s António Costa will be head the European Council, while Estonian Kaja Kallas will lead the EU’s foreign policy service.

The final word belongs to the European Parliament, but as the candidates can be elected with the backing of the majority alone, they might pass.

Hopefully, von der Leyen and Costa will get along better than she did with Charles Michel. They are said to be able to work together and share some traits, too: tough one of them is from EPP, the other is a Socialist, both have their fair share of scandals in their pockets (Costa’s eight years as prime minister of Portugal came to an abrupt end thanks to a corruption scandal last year.)

The fact that their names made it to the shortlist is mainly thanks to a legal loophole.

The EU leaders only have to take into account the results of the European election – but are not bound by those. Hence no matter, how many votes the “far-right” got, they were left out of the deal.

Italian PM Giorgia Meloni got a first-hand taste of the newly found self-confidence of the centre parties, as she was excluded from the negotiations.

She called it “surreal” that the opinions of European voters were not taken into account and that “there are those who argue that citizens are not wise enough to take certain decisions”.

But words apparently mean nothing: after months of courtship, and innumerable photo-ops with leading European figures, the EPP just left her and her party behind when it turned out that, though the European Parliament shifted to the right, but not that much as expected and the EPP still came out as the winner.

Before the elections, Mario Draghi’s name was floated as a possible candidate for von der Leyen’s position. Meloni also hoped that an Italian could get a top economic portfolio in the next Commission. Among others.

Those dreams got all shattered.

By leaders, who, as Meloni put it, “try to clearly keep power even from positions of weakness” and try to pretend that it is still business as usual. A not really veiled reference to President Macron.

France’s snap elections might serve as a reminder that people are not happy with the status quo.

In spite of the doomsday scenarios warning citizens against casting their votes to the far-right, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally won the first round of the elections that saw record numbers of voter turnout.

The party came first with 34 percent of the vote (an almost 3 percent growth since the European elections and almost the double of the party’s 2022 results).

The far left also fared better than expected, scoring 28 percent.

A lot can happen until the second-round runoff on July 7 (or as Le Pen said, “nothing is won. The second round will be decisive”), but the least likely thing is the sudden revival of the Macronian-centre.

Yet, again, probably in a desperate last-minute attempt to secure some support in Brussels, on June 27 President Macron announced that he wanted Thierry Breton back in the Commission, being confident that he has the experience and necessarily qualities for the job. As if his Ensemble coalition hadn’t scored dismal results in the European elections and hadn’t been projected to lose the snap elections. Which they did, reaching a little more than 20 percent, trailing behind his opponents on both ends of the political spectrum.

Macron has lashed out at National Rally’s president Jordan Bardella when he claimed that it should be the future government that should pick the candidate for the country’s European commissioner, rather than the president. Macron argued that the National Rally was “arrogant”, and they were debating “as if they were already in office …[though] the French have not yet chosen”.

Well, they did.

And though it might be that voters decide that the far-left is the lesser evil amongst the two, it is still debatable that the failing centre or the Les Républicains has the right to nominate a candidate for such an important position.

It is not a clear-cut issue, who has the power to put forward a name for France’s EU commissioner in case of a “cohabitation”, the president or the prime minister. But given the current situation, even if the French constitution would explicitly grant the right to the president, consultations with the “cohabiting” parties would be the bare minimum, if Macron really wants to let the French decide.

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