Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- EU leaders have agreed the nomination of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen as the new European Commission President. Her nomination will have to be approved by a majority of the Members of the European Parliament. Leaders have also appointed Belgian Acting Prime Minister Charles Michel as the new President of the European Council for 2019-2022, and have considered 72-year-old Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Fontelles to be “the appropriate candidate” for the post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. For the role of President of the European Central Bank, the Council has nominated the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, who has decided to “temporarily relinquish her responsibilities as IMF Managing Director during the nomination period.” Germany abstained during the vote, and no member state voted against the proposal.
Elsewhere, the European Parliament is currently voting to elect its new President for a two-and-a-half-year term. The four candidates are Ska Keller from the Greens, Sira Rego from the European Left (GUE/NGL), David-Maria Sassoli from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and Jan Zahradil from the European Conservatives and Reformist (ECR).
Separately, Politico reports that pro-European political groups in the European Parliament are planning to block MEPs from the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) group from chairing the Parliament’s committees on agriculture and legal affairs in order to avoid Eurosceptics in influential committee jobs. A spokesperson from the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) group is quoted as saying that the key posts would be shared “among EPP, S&D, liberals and greens.”
There was much opposition from certain groups in the European Parliament against the process of nominating the Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, as she did not campaign for elections and they see this an undemocratic process,” adding, “It is not certain that they will accept her nomination.”
The appointments provide plenty of ammunition to those who criticize the EU for being undemocratic and providing comfortable jobs for failed national politicians. However, assuming she is approved, Von Leyen has the distinction of being the first woman President of the European Commission.
As far as the effect on the Brexit process is concerned Von Leyen is a fervent supporter of the idea of a United States of Europe but her views on negotiations with the British are pragmatic. Germany risks great economic damage if Britain leaves EU without a formal agreement and it is reasonable to assume, she will want to do what she can to achieve agreement with the new British Prime Minister.