Europe Daily Bulletin No. 13441

28 June 2024
EU27 confirm trio of von der Leyen, Costa and Kallas for EU’s top jobs  
Brussels, 27/06/2024 (Agence Europe)

On Thursday 27 June, the heads of state or government of the European Union countries submitted nominations for three senior European posts (see EUROPE 13440/1).

Taking up the proposal of negotiators from the Christian Democrat (EPP), Social Democrat (S&D) and centre-right (Renew Europe) families, the EU27 are proposing that the European Parliament reappoint German Christian Democrat Ursula von der Leyen as head of the Commission for a further five years. And they have nominated the Portuguese Socialist António Costa as President of the European Council for two and a half years and the Estonian Liberal Kaja Kallas as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for five years.

Mr Costa promised to work for the unity of the EU27 and to devote himself to implementing the Strategic Agenda 2024-2029 adopted by the European Council that evening. Constructing a “unity” of Member States will be “my main priority”, he added, in a videoconference from Portugal. Saying she was “honoured”, Ms Kallas acknowledged the “enormous responsibility” she would have “at this time of geopolitical tension”.   

Europe is in good hands”, said a delighted Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo.

However, the decision was not unanimous. In any case, consensus was not necessary, since a reinforced qualified majority (21 countries representing 65% of the population) of the Member States was sufficient.

Among the countries that had reserved their position until the start of the European Summit, the Czech Republic finally supported the trio of personalities. For the Czech Prime Minister, Petr Fiala, the “crucial” geographical criterion has been respected.

The Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, called the trio’s proposal “wrong in method and substance. I consider this to be a great mistake and a lack of respect for European citizens”, she added. She voted against the appointments of Mr Costa and Ms Kallas and abstained on that of Ms von der Leyen. The Italian leader has laid claim to a key portfolio within the future Commission.

On his arrival in Brussels, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán denounced “a coalition of lies and deceit” forged by Christian Democrats with the Social Democrats and Liberals. He opposed the nomination of Ms von der Leyen, abstained on that of Mrs Kallas and approved that of Mr Costa. 

Ms Meloni did not vote in favour of the overall package (and) Mr Orbán did not vote for Ursula von der Leyen either”, confirmed the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen.

By choosing Ms von der Leyen, the European Council is validating the candidacy put forward by the European People’ s Party, the winner of the European elections. It thus confirms the process of head of list candidates (‘Spitzenkandidaten’), Ms von der Leyen being the only one who can claim to gather around her name an absolute majority (361 votes in 2024) of MEPs belonging to pro-European groups.

Her election could take place on Thursday 18 July during the European Parliament’s constituent session, when MEPs are expected to re-elect Maltese Christian Democrat Roberta Metsola as President of the Parliament.

Ms von der Leyen indicated that she would go to Parliament to build a pro-European, pro-Ukraine, pro-Rule of Law coalition. She will contact MEPs from political groups other than the EPP, S&D and Renew Europe platform. “I'll go and see the groups who invite me. I will listen to their ideas and propose my own”, she said, adding that she wished to speak to the “national delegations” of the groups, which may have their own line of action.

Ms von der Leyen will draw on the European Council’s strategic agenda to draw up the broad lines of the programme that she will present to Parliament by mid-July.

Strategic Agenda 2024-2029. Earlier in the evening, the European Council adopted the Strategic Agenda 2024-2029, which sets out the political priorities and internal projects to be carried out so that the enlarged EU can meet the challenges it will face.

At the European Council, the text of the agenda was marginally amended from the last version submitted to the EU27. In particular, a sentence was added clarifying the contribution of European defence to transatlantic security and its complementary nature to NATO, which remains “the foundation of collective defence” for the EU countries that belong to it.

Germany and France made joint proposals that were rejected. “There has been a demand for a more in-depth debate on defence, the Green Deal and migration. But this request had not been accepted”, confirmed a European source.

To see the European Council conclusions including the Strategic Agenda: https://aeur.eu/f/cux (Original version in French by Mathieu Bion with the editorial staff)


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