Mutual recriminations over the failure to elect the four main EU positions

EU leaders failed to vote on the four key positions / Photo EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

EU leaders failed on Monday night to back Ursula von der Leyen for another term as European Commission president, despite assurances from France's Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Olaf Scholz in recent days that they were close to a deal, three EU diplomats said. for Brussels "Politico".

"There is no deal tonight," European Council President Charles Michel told reporters late Monday night after the leaders' dinner. A European diplomat says that although negotiators have agreed on three names, leaders will continue discussions later, possibly at their next meeting on June 27-28.

On the eve of the European elections, an early consensus emerged around the German Von der Leyen for a second term as president of the European Commission, the Portuguese Antonio Costa as president of the European Council, the Maltese Roberta Mezzola as head of the European Parliament and the Estonian Kaja Kalas as head of foreign policy. .

Expectations were high as the 27 heads of state and government met in Brussels in hopes of dividing the bloc's four top jobs between the current coalition of the center-right European People's Party, the Socialists and the Liberals.

After Macron's party was defeated by the far-right in the election, his decision to dissolve the French parliament and call early elections appeared to speed up discussions about the top jobs. Usually, negotiations last for weeks.

In recent weeks, other European leaders have also stressed the need for continuity given Russia's war in Ukraine and the potential return of former US President Donald Trump.

But hopes of a quick deal faded on Monday night after the European People's Party, the winner of the European Parliament election, demanded more concessions and more power among top jobs. As expected, the EPP wanted to re-nominate Von der Leyen and Mezzola, who belong to the same political family. In addition, the EPP proposed to the Socialists that the mandate of the President of the European Council be divided into two parts of 2,5 years – and that the EPP get one of them.

This, in turn, upset the socialists and the democrats, who hoped to install Costa in that position. And soon after the talks stalled, the blame game began.

– This was the tactic of EPP. By requiring a term of office of only two and a half years, it created a huge perception problem among socialists, who would be put in a difficult position. EPP didn't play this one well. This will be difficult to solve, says an EU representative.

Politico's source added that Michel was not helpful in the discussions.

"Instead of helping to reach an agreement, he kept bringing up other things," the official said.

Another reason the talks failed was because Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was not happy with how the evening went, several EU diplomats said. Meloni, who was one of the few leaders to emerge from the European elections with an electoral victory, was unhappy with attempts by other EU leaders to exclude her from the negotiations.

The Italian prime minister "challenged the type of approach to the discussion," an official familiar with the discussion said. She started "from the assumption that today's informal meeting was supposed to be the moment to discuss what to do in the light of the signals from the European elections and then, from that starting point, to start the discussion about the names for the top positions, and not the other way around," the official added.

Speaking at the G7 summit late last week, Macron, who is one of the key brokers of the key EU jobs deal, believed Monday's talks could produce a decision in principle.

- It is a discussion that takes place between the 27. An agreement seems possible in the coming days, Macron said.

Scholz repeated these comments later, believing that a decision on the top jobs in Brussels would come quickly.

- Decisions will now be made very quickly about the most important places that need to be filled in Europe so that the European Union can act, Scholz said in an interview with the German media.

EU leaders will now meet again in Brussels on June 27 and 28, hoping to find a deal for the bloc's leaders ahead of the European Parliament's vote on the next Commission president, scheduled for mid-July.

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