EU leaders to discuss top jobs with line-up seemingly set

  • World
  • Monday, 17 Jun 2024

FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) event in Savelletri, Italy, June 13, 2024. REUTERS/Louisa Gouliamaki/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders will debate policy goals for the next five years from defence to the economy, and who to place in top EU jobs, when they convene in Brussels on Monday.

The informal meeting will be the first leaders gathering since the European Parliament election, which proved good for the centre-right and right-wing nationalists, but humiliating for French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The leaders are to discuss who should be the next presidents of the European Commission and European Council, and the foreign policy chief, but their minds seem already made up.

Germany's Ursula von der Leyen is in prime position to secure a second term as head of the EU executive, buoyed by gains for her centre-right European People's Party.

Thirteen of the 27 EU leaders are from parties belonging to the EPP. With French and German support too, she would have the qualified majority she requires to be nominated.

France had previously weighed alternatives to von der Leyen, but with a snap parliamentary election called by Macron from June 30, the government now prefers EU stability.

Former Portugal Prime Minister António Costa is set to become the next president of the European Council, which would see the socialist chair summits from December.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, a liberal, is then in line to be nominated high representative for foreign affairs, ensuring a balanced geographical and political spread of jobs across the bloc.

The leaders' are due to confirm their choices at an EU summit on June 27-28. Von der Leyen would still then need backing from the European Parliament, which votes in its first session from July 16.

The full 27-member Commission, including the foreign policy chief, also needs parliamentary support.

EU leaders are also expected to discuss the next five-year legislative cycle, with a stress on common values, defence and economic competitiveness. They are due to confirm their "strategic agenda" guidance at the end-June summit.

The leaders should shortly have a report by Mario Draghi, former Italian premier and president of the European Central Bank, on boosting the EU's economic prospects. In a speech on Friday, he said the bloc needed cheaper energy and a capital markets union to steer private savings towards investment.

(This story has been corrected to fix the first name of former Portuguese prime minister to 'António', from 'Alberto', in paragraph 7)

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by David Holmes)

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