EU in Turmoil Over Who Should Replace President Juncker

EU leaders are deeply divided over who should succeed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

A change in the make-up of the European Parliament has altered the preferred options.

A European Council summit to choose a new European Commission president and other top posts was delayed and then paused late on Sunday, after leaders were unable to reach a compromise. The discussions continued again on Monday morning.

The impasse is centered on the nominee to succeed outgoing Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who requires the approval of 21 of the 28 EU leaders, representing 65% of the bloc's population.

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Once EU leaders nominate candidates, these must be approved by the European Parliament.

EU Council President Donald Tusk, who was leading the talks on Sunday, put the summit on hold to spend more time negotiating the candidacy with individual EU leaders, his spokesman said.

Current European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats (S&D) lead candidate, was rumored to be the favorite in the race to succeed Juncker as president of the Commission, with World Bank leader Kristalina Georgieva for president of the European Council and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager or current interim Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel as the EU’s next foreign affairs chief.

The S&D's Timmermans was the compromise choice in a deal reportedly forged by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Japan, and which also included other top EU posts. The deal was also backed by Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

But the conservative European People's Party (EPP), which finished ahead of the socialists in the parliamentary elections, was not backing down on its support for their candidate, German lawmaker Manfred Weber.

Among the EU leaders that have reportedly objected to Timmermans are Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia and Ireland.

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"The vast majority of EPP prime ministers don't believe that we should give up the presidency quite so easily, without a fight," Ireland's center-right Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had told reporters on Sunday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had sent a letter to the EPP warning that Timmermans' nomination would be "a historical mistake."

EU leaders must also select nominees for the European parliament chief, the European Council presidency, foreign policy chief and the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), a post that may be chosen at a later date.

EU members must take into account political affiliation, geography, population size and gender, when deciding the makeup of the bloc's leadership.

EU institutions are supposed to impartially represent the interests of all member nations on the global stage and in Brussels.

You can read this article as it originally appears at Deutsche Welle here.

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This article originally appeared at Deutsche Welle.