EU summit to only decide Van Rompuy and Ashton successors

EXCLUSIVE / The extraordinary EU summit on 30 August, which was expected to put together “the full puzzle” of the EU top jobs for the next five years, will only decide on the successors of Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, sources told EurActiv today (26 August).

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission President-elect, is reported to be convinced that it is not possible to decide on the composition of the future Commission before leaders decide who will succeed Van Rompuy and Ashton.

If the summit decides on the two top jobs, it is expected that Juncker would come up with a list of commissioners and of portfolios in the first or the second week of September.

The reason, sources explained, is that if leaders decide not to appoint Federica Mogherini, the Italian foreign minister, as a successor to Ashton, Rome might nominate another person as Italian commissioner. A number of countries including Poland oppose the appointment of Mogherini as EU foreign affairs chief due to her lack of experience on the Russian dossier and the traditionally pro-Moscow positions of Italy.

According to diplomatic sources, it would not be correct to say that only Eastern European countries had opposed Mogherini, and reportedly France had also done so “in a very elegant way”.

“Mr Juncker has two or three scenarios in mind, but he cannot decide before this decision [on Ashton’s successor] is taken,” a source close to the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg said.

It is also expected that Juncker will first present a list of the Commissioners, followed by a list of the Commissioners’ qualifications.

Such a strategy, however, is likely to clash with the views of several member countries, who insisted over the failed summit held during the night of 16 to 17 July that there was a need to see the “full picture”. Eastern EU countries were the main reason for the blockage. They argued that no decision could be taken on the two senior positions before they knew what portfolios would be assigned to “their” national commissioners.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in at the press conference following the summit that EU leaders had suddenly realised there was “interdependence” between the distribution of Commission portfolios and the two top jobs.

Source: Euractiv


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