EU leaders suspended Sunday Summit after 20 hours marathon talks failing to produce an agreement on who should be appointed for the bloc’s top jobs, prompting criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron who said Europe’s indecisiveness was damaging its image abroad. (Image above: arrivals).
The failure to reach consensus during 20 hours long night owl negotiations reflected the fragmentation of the bloc’s politics, occurring after the European elections, leaving both center right and left substantially weaker.
President Macron, who left the Council premises shortly after the talks were suspended till Tuesday morning, labeled the breakdown a “failure” though he added an agreement could still be found.
Eastern European countries had strongly objected the candidates, proposed by Macron, and the leaders of Germany and Spain to attribute presidency of the European Commission to Dutch Socialist Fran Timmermans. His candidacy did not inspire Italian either.
At the EU Summit in Brussels the leaders agreed to prolong economic sanctions against Russia until the end of January, the sanctions were imposed in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine against the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. (Image above: Crimea bridge).
“Russia sanctions unanimously extended for another six months because of a lack of Minsk Agreements implementation,” wrote in his Twitter micro blog the spokesman, Preben Aman, .
The EU leaders discussion of the attribution of bloc’s top jobs started at late dinner concluding agenda of Summit in Brussels (#EUCO). However the chances to come to an agreement remain minimal as France and Germany cast doubt on any imminent deal, also the Eastern European member-states (Vicegrad 4) vividly opposed both leading candidates from biggest European political groups the EPP and S&D for various reasons.
The 28 national leaders meet in Brussels on June 20-21 to assign the top jobs of the bloc for coming years on the entire spectrum of issues.
“In Europe, our coalition of progress must prevail. We need to find the women and men who can carry an ambitious roadmap at the heart of the European institutions. This is a key issue for the European Council meeting today“, French President Emmanuel Macron said at arrival to the European Council.
Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, was reminiscent of cardinals locked to select a Pope, hinting of disagreements among the member-states, and European political families.
However the nominations should be made before the new European parliament starts its session on July 2 in Strasbourg. By the time the European Council has to announce the major appointments, including the top job of the President of the European Commission, de facto “Prime Minister of Europe“.
The EU member-states are striving for an agreement on the European Union’s top jobs by July 2, by the day of the new European Parliament constitution – in the attempt of avoiding an institutional crisis, the European diplomats say.
The diplomats doubt if the a deal can be reached at the Summit, pointing to a disagreement between Berlin and Paris over a German candidate Manfred Weber’s bid to take over the job of the President of the Commission later this year.
The five top executive positions are to be attributed to start a new political cycle.
European Council President Donald Tusk said that he was “cautiously optimistic” that EU leaders would agree on candidates to hold the bloc’s top jobs when they meet in Brussels on June 20.
“I remain cautiously optimistic, as those I have spoken to have expressed determination to decide swiftly. I hope we can make it on Thursday” Tusk said.
The top jobs include the successors for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt Mario Draghi, and Donald Tusk, the President of the EU Council.
Following an European election end May, the new European parliament is due to gather in Strasbourg for the first time on July 2 and should then elect its new president for 2019-24.
After the European Parliament elections EU heads of state or government will meet for a summit on 28 May 2019 in Brussels.
They will discuss the outcome of the vote and launch the procedure of the nomination process for the heads of the EU institutions.
“Naturally, this process will follow the rules set down in the Treaties. It should reflect geographical balance as well as demography, so that both large and smaller countries are represented in the highest positions in the EU.”
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
President Tusk, who announced the meeting after the summit in Sibiu, stressed that he would like the European Council to nominate the new EU leaders in June 2019.
European leaders will highly likely meet in an extraordinary summit on 28 May after the elections of the member states’ representatives in the European Parliament, according to the diplomatic source in Brussels. (Image above: archive).
This summit, like the extraordinary European Council that followed the 2014 European elections, will allow them to discuss the future European Commission and the identity of Jean-Claude Juncker’s successor as president.
European Union leaders agreed to offer the UK six more months to leave the bloc, more than Prime Minister Theresa May said she requested. The Brussels Summit concluded in the early hours on April 11 that the second extension is granted, which signifies Britain will not exit on April 12, as the suggested the first extension, shifting the deadline to October 31.
However the extension does not define if it must end with the UK exit, or it can be followed by the other extension in case the deal is not endorsed by the Westminster by that moment. It certainly offers more time to Prime minister to convince the Members of Parliament to support her Article 50 Agreement with the EU. The deal rejected three times in the House of Commons is not to be re-opened or re-negotiated the EU underlines, claiming it is the best possible agreement, and there will be not other.
The shifting of the Brexit deadline has an impact on the European Parliament, meaning the UK has an obligation to organise the European elections, being the EU member-state. Any further shifting the deadline beyond end October would mean the UK would participate in appointment of the European Commissioners, the development seen as irrelevant to the UK decision to leave the EU.