Ursula von der Leyen close to being re-elected EU Commission president (2024)

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The EU's 27 member states have not formally confirmed the re-appointment of Angela Merkel's former minister, but they are close to an agreement that would see Antonio Costa become president of the Council and Kaja Kallas take charge of foreign affairs.

ByPhilippe Jacqué(Brussels (Belgium) correpondent) and Virginie Malingre(Brussels, Europe bureau)

Published on June 19, 2024, at 3:04 am (Paris), updated on June 26, 2024, at 9:44 am

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Ursula von der Leyen close to being re-elected EU Commission president (1)

The 27 EU member states don't want to give the impression that, after the European elections on June 9, they'll be spending weeks squabbling over the next presidents of the European Commission and Council, and the future EU foreign policy chief. Between the war in Ukraine, the rise of the far right in Europe, the prospect of Donald Trump's return to the White House, the EU's economic decline, global warming and the offensives undertaken by China and the US to seize the advantage in future technologies, they can't afford a new wave of drama.

Read more Subscribers only After EU elections, weakened France seeks to limit loss of influence in Brussels

Therefore, Europe's national leaders meticulously prepared for their meeting in Brussels on Monday, June 17, leaving no room for improvisation. Europe's citizens would not appreciate it if "politicians here in Brussels are talking for weeks on end about who's going to do what role when there are so many pressing issues," said Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed: "It is important for a decision to be made quickly, because we are living in difficult times."

And yet, despite their assurances that they are close, the 27 EU member states failed to reach a formal agreement on Monday evening. "Things need to simmer a little [but] we are not far off," revealed French President Emmanuel Macron, who was betting on an agreement within 10 days, when the leaders meet again in Brussels. In fact, the favorites are well known and supported by the right-wing European People's Party (EPP), the Social Democrats (S&D) and liberals of the Renew group, who form a coalition in the European Parliament.

Starting with Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission president, who is seeking reappointment. "An excellent candidate," stated Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is delighted with the "emerging consensus" on all the forthcoming appointments. As the EPP strengthened its position as the largest political group in the European Parliament on June 9, Angela Merkel's former minister is a legitimate candidate.

EPP offensive

Against this backdrop, the S&D, who make up the second largest political force in the Strasbourg Parliament and held up rather well in the elections, are calling for the Council presidency to go to former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa. The EPP and S&D are also in the habit of sharing the presidency of the European Parliament, which changes mid-term. Malta's Roberta Metsola, the current holder of the position, could therefore remain in office for a further two and a half years, before stepping down in favor of a Socialist.

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Ursula von der Leyen close to being re-elected EU Commission president (2024)

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