The European leaders will try this Thursday to agree on who will preside over the European Commission in the next five years, when none of the candidates in the contest achieves consensus, during a summit in Brussels, with the climatic emergency also as protagonist.
The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, was "cautiously optimistic" in his letter of invitation to the leaders on a possible agreement, despite the complex negotiations initiated after the elections to the European Parliament at the end of May. At least three political families must agree, by virtue of the results, to forge a majority in the European Parliament, an institution that ultimately must validate the candidate to preside over the Commission appointed by the leaders.
The first working session of the summit will begin at 3:00 p.m., but the highlight will be the work dinner devoted to the distribution of senior officials in the EU. The jewel in the crown is the presidency of the European Commission. However, none of the candidates chosen by the main political forces of the European Parliament gathers the majority in the Council necessary to be proposed.
In order to be appointed by the European Council, the candidate to chair the Commission must gather the support of at least 21 of the 28 presidents, whose countries represent 65% of the population, so the correlation of forces is key. The PPE (right), the first force with 181 seats of the 751, proposed the German Manfred Weber, while the Social Democrats (153) defend the Dutchman Frans Timmermans and the liberals (108) presented the Danish Margrethe Vestager.
But no candidacy would achieve the majority in the European Parliament, several European sources told AFP. "The person capable of gathering this double majority (in the Council and the European Parliament) is not yet known," according to a European diplomat.
Beyond the name, an agreement is outlined on the distribution of the four positions of power. The PPE claims the presidency of the Commission, the executive arm of the bloc, a requirement that is not discussed, three officials indicated.
The Liberals want the presidency of the European Council, an institution that brings together the leaders, and the Social Democrats would obtain the leadership of European diplomacy and the presidency of the European Parliament would be shared with the Greens. "All this can still change," warns a European official. In addition to the distribution between parties, appointments must also respect geographical balances (North / South, East / West, small country / large country) and gender.
To try to reach an agreement, the contacts will multiply throughout the day. The six leaders chosen to negotiate for their respective political families will resume their discussions at 08:00 at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. Next, each political family – EPP, Liberals and Social Democrats – will meet before the summit to prepare their positions. And bilateral meetings are not ruled out, as between the Spanish Pedro Sánchez and the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron.
If a name is not achieved, the discussions between leaders could continue in parallel to the G-20 meeting in Osaka, where six European leaders will participate, and take shape in an agreement during a new extraordinary summit on July 1. "We must quickly find an agreement, since we must have an operational European Commission to manage Brexit, especially if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister of the United Kingdom," according to a senior diplomat.
The elections also confirmed the emergence of the climate issue in the bloc, prompted by weekly student protests, a point that leaders will address this Thursday after several days of animated discussions in Brussels. The representatives of the countries before the EU were divided over the final declaration of the need to reach by 2050 carbon neutrality – the balance between emissions and the absorption of greenhouse gases.
In the draft conclusions, to which AFP had access, the leaders will ask to advance "the conditions, the incentives and the framework that must be established to determine how to guarantee a transition towards a climate neutral EU by 2050". The text seeks to unite the different positions between the western countries of the EU, much more favorable, and those of the East, whose economies are more dependent on fossil fuels such as coal, in the case of Poland.
"Actually, there is a new paradigm on the issue of carbon neutrality by 2050, which has become desirable in most countries, but not acceptable to all," according to a diplomatic source.
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