Sunday, 18 August, 2019

EU's Tusk wants at least two women in top European Union jobs

Anti-EU parties make up just one third of parties in the European parliament Anti-EU parties make up just one third of parties in the European parliament Credit Sean Gallup Getty Images
Patty Aguilar | 29 May, 2019, 16:41

Brexit acted as a "vaccine" against Euroskepticism, and "Europe is the victor in these elections", said European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday in a press conference following the just-concluded leaders' informal meeting.

"It is important for me to have gender balance, that we name two men and two women", he added.

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, will now go away and try to draw up a list of nominees for top EU roles that a majority of leaders could get behind at a 21 June summit.

"No-one is interested in an inter-institutional conflict", the council chief said, referring to a possible prolonged political battle between the council and parliament on how and who to nominate for the commission top job.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, ALDE and Macron's En Marche party said bluntly, "At this hour, no candidate for the presidency of the commission has secured a majority in the European Parliament".

But President Emmanuel Macron of France said the shifting political balance in the European Parliament after last week's election had broken the "prison" of the candidacy process.

Merkel also warned "not open new wounds", as the leaders and the parliament will have to work together, for instance in adopting the new long-term budget for the EU.

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The obscure and difficult-to-call recruitment process will be a compromise between requirements of geography and political affiliation, as well as the candidates' own profiles. "Others stand by their candidate, which is obvious", Ms Merkel told reporters. "That means we need a new alliance of progressive forces and you invite everyone who is smart enough to realise the real challenges in Europe and who is committed enough to provide for pro-European, progressive answers to be part of the party".

That is short of the 376-seat majority needed to approve a new head for the bloc's executive European Commission. Getting Barnier to head the commission would mark a fillip for Macron following the strong showing of the French far-right in Sunday's elections.

The EU would risk an institutional logjam if talks are prolonged, leaving it unable to make key policy decisions at a time when it faces a more assertive Russia, China's growing economic might and the unpredictable United States president.

These jobs will be picked by the national leaders of European Union governments, with the first formal clash set for Tuesday, when they will meet for a summit dinner in Brussels.

After Tuesday's summit it appeared clear the process will take some time, amid signs of a power struggle between the EU Council, which represents national governments, and the parliament.

He added: "The vast majority voted for a more effective, stronger and united European Union while rejecting those who want a weak Europe".

Another option might be Barnier, an EPP member and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, who did not run as a candidate but has been waiting in the wings, ready to step forward.

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