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Visegrad presidency, Czech Republic.

Visegrad countries stop Timmermans from becoming EU Commission chief

The European Council of Heads of State and Government has nominated German Federal Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) for the post of new Commission President.

Published: July 3, 2019, 9:53 am

    Brussels

    The mainstream media has meanwhile been reporting that the leading candidate of the European Social Democrats, Frans Timmermanns, will become president of the Commission.

    But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in particular, as well as the Visegrad Group of Central European nations in general, successfully campaigned to stop Timmermans.

    Orban said the Visegrad Group’s role was especially important now, and not only in light of the recent events. The alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland is a “success story”, he said, as the group of nations showing the most solidarity with each other within the bloc.

    “An important victory has been achieved but new debates keep coming up in international politics,” he said. “At least now we have the strength to stand up for ourselves,” he added.

    In order to become the successor of Jean-Claude Juncker at the head of the Commission, Von der Leyen still needs the approval of the EU Parliament. Von der Leyen was actually born in Brussels, since her father worked for the EU Commission.

    The Council leaders have since abandoned the notion of a Spitzenkandidat or “lead candidate” process, by which the Council selects from among the nominees of the major EU political families.

    The next EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is said to be the current Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who has made a name for himself in the past with harsh rhetoric against the Catalan independence movement and a refusal to recognize Kosovo.

    The next president of the European Central Bank may be the current Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde. She was nominated to succeed Mario Draghi.

    And the successor of Donald Tusk as President of the European Council is slated to be the current Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. Michel is a strange choice since he is currently in a caretaker position after his governing coalition collapsed.

    Tusk meanwhile praised the “perfect gender balance” in the choices of Von der Leyen and Lagarde. “I am really happy about it. After all, Europe is a woman.”

    Manfred Weber (CSU), the leading candidate of the European People’s Party for the European elections, was one of the favorites, but French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear from the outset that he did not want Weber.

    But for Weber, there is still the possibility of being elected president of the European Parliament on Wednesday by votes.

    The new appointments are scheduled to take effect later this year.

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