EU leaders deadlocked over power struggle in Brussels

Published 22.06.2019 00:03

European leaders failed to agree on a package of senior nominations on the team that will guide the EU for the next five years, with divisions still too deep for compromise. The heads of government are due back in Brussels on June 30 to choose a new president of the European Commission to replace Jean-Claude Juncker and Brussels' most senior officials.

The European parliamentary elections shredded comfortable old political alliances and raised troubling questions about the future of the European project; the leaders want to show they can respond quickly to people's concerns. The aim is to name all four top jobs; the commission chief, a replacement for Donald Tusk as European Council president, a new foreign policy chief and head of the European Central Bank. Former Luxembourg Premier Jean-Claude Juncker heads the commission, which proposes EU laws and ensures they are respected, until Oct. 31.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the three top candidates to become head of the EU's powerful executive body have been rejected by the bloc's leaders. Speaking after an EU summit Friday, Macron said "the point was made that it is impossible for these three candidates to be retained."

Center-right candidate Manfred Weber from Germany, center-left pick Dutchman Frans Timmermans and free-market liberal choice Margrethe Vestager of Denmark were considered most likely for the European Commission post now held by Juncker.

The elections saw Europe's mainstream center-right and center-left parties lose seats in the European Parliament. The conservative European People's party, which has been the largest group in the assembly, and the Socialists and Democrats bloc have held a majority in the body for 40 years. But voters concerned about climate change, migration or security turned instead to the Greens, the pro-business ALDE group or far-right parties. As a result, it is unclear what workable majority will emerge in the assembly, which sits in Brussels and Strasbourg when lawmakers gather in July, especially as the leaders and party groups jockey for position.

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