European Union

"Some progress" as EU leaders try to reach consensus on top job candidates

Journalists sleep while waiting for the end of a European Union leaders summit that aims to select candidates for top EU institution jobs, in Brussels, on July 1.
Journalists sleep while waiting for the end of a European Union leaders summit that aims to select candidates for top EU institution jobs, in Brussels, on July 1. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)

European Union leaders held talks through the night in an attempt to find a consensus on who shall replace Jean-Claude Juncker as the head of the European Commission. Sunday's was their second official meeting. Disccussions resumed on Monday morning at 3 AM.


Update 08:45UT:

A European Union official says leaders are moving closer to filling a handful of the block's key posts.

The official say Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans is in prime position to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission.

The high-ranking diplomat involved in the talks says that the Christian Democrats would have Bulgaria's Kristalina Georgieva follow Donald Tusk as head of the European Council, which coordinates policies of member states and organizes summits.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the 28 leaders had not yet reconvened for the formal summit where they should confirm the jobs.

Update 08:20UT:

European Union officials say leaders pulled an all-nighter at a summit but failed to agree on the list of candidates for the bloc's key posts, with the marathon talks entering a second day.

The leaders trickled in for bilateral contacts through Sunday before officially convening at around 8 p.m. Sunday. They have been locked in talks ever since amid deep divisions over how to best balance political, geographic and gender considerations among the 28 member nations.

With the selection process bogged down for the second EU summit meeting in a row, the leaders were still considering Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans to replace Christian Democrat Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the EU's powerful executive arm, the European Commission.

Update 06:30UT

Italy's Prime minister, Guiseppe Conte told reporters on Monday that there was no agreement "at the moment" among the EU leaders.

Sunday's dinner was delayed by three hours because of consultations among Heads of states and was later suspended after one hour for more further discussions. The 28 EU members states are divided over the proposal of Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans  to head the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.

The European right leaning parties - Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Ireland - opposed Timmermans claim to the top job. Germany's CDU (Christian Democratic Union) secretary general said that a different option to Manfred Weber would be "incomprehensible."

France and Germany have different views on successor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs Weber but French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that Weber lacks experience for such a high-profile job.

Moreover, France believes that Germany holds a sufficient amount of key positions within the EU, such as the European Investment Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the European Court of Auditors.

After negotiations started early Sunday, summit host and EU Council President Donald Tusk had more than 30 bilateral meetings in his attempt to find a breakthrough. He suggested other names, including that of Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier

The task was never going to be easy. The appointments must take into account political affiliation, geography   balancing east and west, north and south   population size and gender. The leaders of EU institutions are supposed to impartially represent the interests of all member nations globally and in Brussels.

EU leaders want to fill the positions soon because the European Parliament is set to pick a new president next Wednesday.

Under EU rules, member countries choose who will run the Commission, replacing Juncker. The parliament must endorse that choice. But the assembly has insisted that only the lead candidates from parties that ran in last month's elections should be eligible for the post.

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