Spitzenkandidat is Dead

German MEP Manfred Weber' EPP party had the most votes in the European parliament. Under informal Spitzenkandidat agreements, the party with the most votes picks the head of the European Council.

But facing opposition from France and Spain, Merkel dumped Weber (her Plan A choice) in favor of Social Democrat Frans Timmermans (Plan B).

Bickering over five top jobs ensued but the “Visegrad” group (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary) would not approve Timmermans who supports a refugee quota distribution system.

Era of Political Consensus is Over

Eurtointelligence had interesting comments today.

There are no solutions that tick all of the boxes. Whatever list of names you draw up, there is always something wrong: not enough women; no eastern Europeans; or a political imbalance - too many liberals, or too few.

The task becomes impossible when you add the following conditions on top: Germany wants a spitzenkandidat as Commission president; France does not want Manfred Weber; Italy does not want Margrethe Vestager, fearing it might get Jens Weidmann at the ECB. And then there are the east Europeans who don’t want Frans Timmermans. And the EPP, which does not want him either. It is unsurprising that the lists kept on rotating back to the starting point.

The era of consensus politics is ending.

Of the five jobs, there are only two that matter to the outside world and to us: of those the ECB is by far the most important and the least discussed among EU leaders. Having observed the European Council’s persistent and ongoing mismanagement of the eurozone, this lack of interest does not surprise us. Given the continued fragility of the monetary union, it appears downright irresponsible to us for politicians to prioritize spitzenkandidaten, or even a formal women quota. This is on so many levels worse than the futility expressed in the English metaphor of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. There was not much you could do on a sinking ship with insufficient space on lifeboats. What we are seeing here is a conscious choice not to focus on relevant issues.

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  • European Council President: Belgium’s liberal caretaker prime minister, Charles Michel, would replace Tusk as the next chairman of EU leaders’ summits and be tasked with building compromises between the often fractious 28 member states.
  • European Commission President: German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, would become head of the European Commission, the EU executive, under the deal reached in Brussels, which must still be endorsed by the European Parliament.
  • Foreign Policy Chief: Spain’s acting foreign minister, the socialist Josep Borrell, would be the EU’s new top diplomat in Brussels, Tusk said.
  • President of the European Parliament: to be decided
  • Head of the ECB: Christine Lagarde

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