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The 27 gathered in Brussels to confirm von der Leyen, final negotiations

European leaders met in Brussels on Thursday to approve a second term for Ursula von der Leyen as Commission chief, in a deal on key EU posts that has angered Italy's Giorgia Meloni and Hungary's Viktor Orban.

After discussions on foreign policy issues, Ukraine and the Middle East, and defense, the heads of state and government were engaged in difficult talks in the evening on the “strategic agenda”, setting the bloc's priorities for the next five years.

Amendments proposed by France and Germany at the last moment have, according to diplomatic sources, aroused strong reluctance from the other member states. And this is even before the question of the distribution of the three “top jobs”, planned for dinner, is addressed.

The stakes seem to be set on these positions, after the agreement concluded on Tuesday between six European leaders – including the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron and the German Olaf Scholz – belonging to the “grand coalition” of the right, social democrats and centrists, in the wake of the European elections of June 6-9.

“European voters have been deceived”, raged the nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, in arriving at the summit. The right “has formed a coalition of lies with the left and the liberals. We do not support this shameful agreement!”, he fumed.

The leader of the ultraconservative Italian government, Giorgia Meloni, left out of the negotiations between the three political groups, had denounced the actions of an “oligarchy” the day before in Rome.

But she did not speak to the press at the summit, and a certain number of leaders were careful to spare her.

This meeting of the Twenty- Seven is being held three days before the early legislative elections in France, for which the National Rally (extreme right) is largely in the lead.

Asked whether this election “cast a shadow” over the EU, Viktor Orban said on the contrary that it brought a “ray of sunshine”, believing that “great things can happen (in France) on Sunday”.

The 27 gathered in Brussels to confirm von der Leyen, final negotiations

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends a European summit in Brussels on June 27, 2024 © AFP – JOHN THYS

In addition to a second term for the German Ursula von der Leyen as president of the European Commission, the agreement concerns the designation of the Portuguese socialist Antonio Costa at the head of the European Council and the centrist Kaja Kallas , Estonian Prime Minister, as head of diplomacy.

“Surprises happen (…) we must not sell the bear's skin before killing him”, the latter cautiously commented.

The three names will be submitted to all the leaders who should approve them: the overwhelming majority of them belong to one of these three families (right, center, social democrats).

If Giorgia Meloni's support is not necessary, as unanimity is not required, politically, her voice counts.

“The hope, of course, is that everyone supports this proposal (…) all 27 are equally important,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

– “No Europe without Italy” –

The 27 gathered in Brussels to confirm von der Leyen, final negotiations

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban answers questions from journalists during a European summit in Brussels on June 27, 2024 © AFP – JOHN THYS

The European elections of June 9 were marked by a progression of the radical and extreme right, in particular of Ms. Meloni's ECR group, which took third place from the centrist family of Emmanuel Macron in the European Parliament .

The Italian leader, like nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is calling for the distribution of high EU posts to take this surge into account.

“There is a political reality at the end of the European elections which is that of the renewal of the coalition between the EPP (right), S&D (social democrats) and Renew (center), a coalition to which ECR does not belong”, we respond to the French presidency. But “no one is excluded”, adds this source.

“There is no Europe without Italy, and there is no decision without Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, that's obvious”, assured the head of the Polish government, Donald Tusk, from the EPP.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer , from the same political family, also considered it “important to involve” Ms Meloni in the negotiation process, stressing that she had “taken many good initiatives for the European Union and for security at our external borders”.

Having emerged from this election strengthened, the leader of the third largest economy in the EU intends to have more influence on the choices of the future executive in Brussels.

Rome claims “at least” a vice-presidency of the European Commission, with a “significant portfolio” to influence industrial and agricultural policy, according to its Minister of Affairs foreigners Antonio Tajani.

If she is indeed appointed by the leaders, Ursula von der Leyen will still have to be dubbed by an absolute majority of 361 MEPs.

The 27 gathered in Brussels to confirm von der Leyen, final negotiations

In front of the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, April 12, 2024 © AFP – Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD

In a letter sent on the eve of the summit to the leaders of the 27 countries, Ms. von der Leyen said she was ready, within the framework of a future mandate, to examine solutions proposed by 15 countries of the EU, including Italy, to outsource the processing of asylum requests in third countries, a way of giving assurances in particular to Giorgia Meloni.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116