EU summit may decide only on foreign policy chief - EU monitor

EU monitor
Woensdag 15 juli 2020

EU summit may decide only on foreign policy chief

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER) i, gepubliceerd op maandag 14 juli 2014, 9:28.
Auteur: Valentina Pop and Andrew Rettman

BRUSSELS - Leaders meeting on Wednesday (17 July) may pick only the new EU foreign policy chief, with a decision on the successor to Council head Herman Van Rompuy i “possibly” delayed until the autumn.

According to one EU source, "if a complete deal is feasible, we should go for it. Otherwise, it will be only the high representative."

A second source told this website that it is "certainly a possibility" that only the foreign affairs job will be filled this week.

Both the foreign policy chief - Catherine Ashton i - and the EU council president - Herman Van Rompuy - have five months to go until their terms end. But in the case of the foreign affairs job, the successor also has to be undergo hearings in the European Parliament and to be voted in together with the rest of the new EU commissioners in October.

At the core of the delay on the council post is a disagreement in the Socialist leaders' camp.

France's Francois Hollande i is reluctant to endorse Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt i for Van Rompuy job.

Thorning-Schmidt is a centre-left politician, but close enough to the centre-right to be acceptable to the likes of Germany’s Angela Merkel i or the UK’s David Cameron i.

The political colour of one top job will determine the other one, as the centre-right and the centre left are dividing the posts between them.

If Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini i, the new frontrunner, is appointed foreign policy chief - the council presidency should go to a prime minister from the centre-right.

Ireland's Enda Kenny i is one of the names floated, together with Baltic ex-PMs Valdis Dombrovskis i of Latvia and Andrus Ansip i of Estonia.

The Baltic option would mean that eastern European countries get something in the carve-up of top jobs.

But even that might be unlikely to placate opposition to Mogherini.

A senior contact from one Baltic capital told EUobserver on Monday (14 July): “We’re not happy about her and that’s putting it politely. She has little experience overall and no experience of the eastern neighbourhood. It’s complicated for us to understand why she went to Moscow to meet [Russian leader] Putin i in her first Italian EU presidency trip”.

The contact noted that Poland is “still pushing” for its FM, Radek Sikorski, but added that this is primarily designed to stop Mogherini rather than to get him in.

The source also said that Bulgaria's current humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva i is a “good compromise option” because she is a woman from the east and largely seen as a technocrat despite her formal allegiance with the centre-right.

But an EU official familiar with the talks said he "doubts" Georgieva will land the post, while Mogherini is "likely" to get it.

The talks on the EU posts will at Wednesday’s EU summit be held alongside fresh deliberations on how to handle the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko telephoned Van Rompuy at the weekend to urge the bloc to adopt tougher sanctions.

He said in a statement on his website that Van Rompuy promised that leaders will discuss further options.

Poroshenko added that Russian troops have begun sneaking across the border to fight his forces and that Putin is sending “heavy military equipment” to rebels in east Ukraine in ever larger quantities.

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