European Union leaders clashed over future EU institutions top jobs, primary of powerful position of the European Commission president, promising to meet a deadline for appointments at June Summit (20-21/6).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced resistance when French President Emmanuel Macron publicly rejected the Bavarian politician Manfred Weber, her preferred candidate, a center-right (European People’s Party) Member of the European Parliament.
After the EU elections the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the center-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) would no longer be able to form a majority in the European Parliament to determine the next Commission head.
The EPP are have to turn for support to the liberal Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), or/and the Greens, since three groups assembly needed to approve any nomination by the 28 heads of states.
The national government leaders agreed to finalize their nominations at end semester Summit on June 20-21, well ahead Jean-Claude Juncker mandate expiration at the end of October.
Among leading figures to heir the job of Jean-Claude Juncker, next to Manfred Weber, three oher names were announced by the President Macron: Dutch Socialist Frans Timmermans, Danish Liberal Margrethe Vestager,and the EU top Brexit negociator Michel Barnier, “and others”.
At Informal Summit in Brussels the EU leaders bargained behind closed doors, but by the end of the meeting the Council president Donald Tusk announced that there is a target of assigning half of top jobs to women.
At his arrival to the EU Informal Summit President Emmanuel Macron said on he prefers two women and two men with strong personalities to lead the European Union in the next five years. French President declined to name his favorite candidates at this stage, but he mentioned the names of the contestants as Frans Timmermans, Margrethe Vestager, and Michel Barnier, next to the official spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber.
“The key for me is for the people at the most sensitive positions to share our project and be the most charismatic, creative and competent possible,” Macron told press corps after an informal dinner of EU leaders in Brussels.
“I’m not part of those who… want leaders of the European Commission or the European Council who don’t overshadow national leaders,” he explained. And added that it is not about the names or candidates, but about uniting people, and advancing the European project.
“President Juncker followed Prime Minister Theresa May‘s announcement this morning –without personal joy. He will respect and establish working relations with any new Prime Minister, whomever they may be – without stopping his conversations with Theresa May“, said the European Commission spokesperson, while announcing the reaction on the resignation during midday briefing for Brussels press corps.
The top EU negotiator Michel Barnier expressed his “full respect” to Theresa May for her determination to achieve orderly Brexit.
The resignation was announced in Prime Minister emotional statement, pointing out that she profoundly regrets failure to reach Brexit deal compromise, leading to orderly departure from the EU.
“No deal was never our desired nor intended scenario. No deal was never my intended scenario, but the EU 27 is now prepared. It becomes day after day more likely,” Michel Barnier, the EU Brexit top negotiator said addressing the even in the European Policy Centre Brussels think-tank. (Image above: illustration).
“Let’s not forget first that we have already an agreement, we have already a deal, and it was concluded by Theresa May and the British government and the European Council and European Parliament on November 25 last year, four months ago,” he said, putting the blame for the Brexit crisis on Westminster.
“If the UK parliament does not vote in favour of the withdrawal agreement in the coming days, then only two options would remain: leaving without an agreement or requesting a longer extension of the Article 50 period,” Barnier, reiterated the position of the EU institutions. “It would be the responsibility of the UK government to choose between these two options.”
Long extension would mean a participation in the European elections, and entering next political cycle withing the EU.
Debating with European Council president Donald Tusk and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker the European Parliament largest political group leaders gave their support to the decisions taken by the EU heads of states and governments, concluding March 21-22 Summit to avoid a disorderly Brexit, giving additional opportunities to Theresa May government to avoid the UK departing from the bloc without an agreement. At In the second March European Parliament plenary numerous MEPs also individually expressed solidarity with pro-EU UK movements and bitterly criticised Westminster for incapacity to build a majority around any of possible models of moving forward.
The UK MEPs represented a variety of view, from ardent supporters of the EU membership, to staunch sovereignists, requesting immediate departure from they bloc without further delay.
In the situation when the Article 50 Agreement has not been delivered by the government, and the proposed deal was voted down twice by the Westminster, Alyn Smith from Scottish National Party (UK, Greens) MEP says the best way out is to stay in the EU. He reminded that his native Scotland voted to remain in the bloc.
Nigel Farage MEP, accused UK politics of being dishonest, while attempting to stop Brexit,the “Westminster has betrayed the greatest democratic vote in the history of our country“, he said, and vowed Brexiteers would not let it happen without consequences.
The top EU negotiator for Article 50 Agreement Michel Barnier reiterated that the deal was produced in co-operation with the UK, and not “against” the UK. He also underlined the unprecedented difficulty of the process, being not “trade talks“, but “exit” talks, and that it was a unilateral decision of Britons to leave, so they a have to assume the responsibilities for the consequences.
The European Union 27 leaders, gathering for a Summit in Brussels offered an extension of Brexit deadline to 22 May, the day before the European election voting starts in member-states (23-26 May).
However the deadline extension is not unconditional, EU27 Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said at arrival to the European Council. A short Brexit delay “should be conditional on a positive vote next week in the House of Commons“.
“We have done our best, now the solution is in London,” Barnier said.
The European Parliament representative for Brexit talks Guy Verhofstadt said there can not be a deadline extension beyond March 29 in absence of clarity of the position of the majority in House of Commons. The statement was made after consultations with Michel Barnier the EU chief negotiator.
Guy Verhofstad MEP warned off the European elections ‘hijacked‘by Brexit crisis, replacing political debate on European issues by political struggle in Westminster.