EU sum­mit to only de­cide on Van Rom­puy and Ash­ton suc­ces­sors

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ge­orgi Gotev

The ex­tra­or­di­nary EU sum­mit on Satur­day, which was ex­pected to put to­gether “the full puzzle” of the top jobs for the next five years, will only de­cide on the suc­ces­sors of Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Her­man Van Rom­puy, and for­eign af­fairs chief Cather­ine Ash­ton, sources told the EU news and pol­icy site EurAc­tiv on Tues­day.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Com­mis­sion Pres­i­den­t­elect, is re­ported to be con­vinced that it is not pos­si­ble to de­cide on the com­po­si­tion of the future Com­mis­sion be­fore lead­ers de­cide who will suc­ceed Van Rom­puy and Ash­ton.

If the sum­mit de­cides on the two top jobs, it is ex­pected that Juncker would come up with a list of com­mis­sion­ers and of port­fo­lios in the first or the sec­ond week of Septem­ber.

The rea­son, sources ex­plained, is that if lead­ers de­cide not to ap­point Fed­er­ica Mogherini, the Ital­ian for­eign min­is­ter, as a suc­ces­sor to Ash­ton, Rome might nom­i­nate an­other per­son as Ital­ian com­mis­sioner. A num­ber of coun­tries in­clud­ing Poland op­pose the ap­point­ment of Mogherini as EU for­eign af­fairs chief due to her lack of ex­pe­ri­ence on the Rus­sian dossier and the tra­di­tion­ally pro-Moscow po­si­tions of Italy.

Ac­cord­ing to diplo­matic sources, it would not be cor­rect to say that only East­ern Euro­pean coun­tries had op­posed Mogherini, and re­port­edly France had also done so “in a very el­e­gant way”.

“Mr Juncker has two or three sce­nar­ios in mind, but he can­not de­cide be­fore this de­ci­sion [on Ash­ton’s suc­ces­sor] is taken,” a source close to the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter of Lux­em­bourg said.

It is also ex­pected that Juncker will first present a list of the Com­mis­sion­ers, fol­lowed by a list of the Com­mis­sion­ers’ qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Such a strat­egy, how­ever, is likely to clash with the views of sev­eral mem­ber coun­tries, who in­sisted over the failed sum­mit held dur­ing the night of July 16 to 17 that there was a need to see the “full pic­ture”. East­ern EU coun­tries were the main rea­son for the block­age. They ar­gued that no de­ci­sion could be taken on the two se­nior po­si­tions be­fore they knew what port­fo­lios would be as­signed to “their” na­tional com­mis­sion­ers.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said in at the press con­fer­ence fol­low­ing the sum­mit that EU lead­ers had sud­denly re­alised there was “in­ter­de­pen­dence” between the dis­tri­bu­tion of Com­mis­sion port­fo­lios and the two top jobs.

A se­nior diplo­mat from an east­ern mem­ber state told EurAc­tiv that he didn’t be­lieve that the sum­mit will end up suc­cess­ful, with only the two top job nom­i­na­tions. “There would nec­es­sar­ily be agree­ments, even if not an­nounced, over at­tri­bu­tions,” the diplo­mat said.

Usu­ally, Van Rom­puy is in charge of prepa­ra­tions of EU sum­mits. In fact, the for­mer Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter has been harshly crit­i­cised by mem­ber coun­tries for the poor prepa­ra­tion of the 16-17 July sum­mit, as lead­ers are re­ported to have known there would be no agree­ment at the time they sat around the sum­mit ta­ble. This time, Juncker is said to be closely as­so­ci­ated with the prepa­ra­tion of the Au­gust 30 sum­mit.

EurAc­tiv was also told that all coun­tries had made nom­i­na­tions for com­mis­sion­ers, with the unique ex­cep­tion of Bel­gium.

Re­port­edly, only four women are likely to be part of the next EU ex­ec­u­tive (Italy’s Mogherini, Bul­garia’s Ge­orgieva, the Czech Repub­lic’s Jourova and Swe­den’s Malm­strom.) There are seven women in the present EU com­mis­sion, and the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is in­sist­ing that the gen­der bal­ance should fur­ther im­prove. To mol­lify the Par­lia­ment, Juncker has re­cently told the Aus­trian daily Kurier that he would give women can­di­dates the Com­mis­sion’s Vice Pres­i­dent po­si­tion, and im­por­tant port­fo­lios.

It is not yet clear if Juncker will par­tic­i­pate in the sum­mit, EurAc­tiv was told. EU am­bas­sadors will meet in the COREPER for­mat to pre­pare the sum­mit on Thurs­day.

Dur­ing the first and sec­ond week of Septem­ber, Juncker will ta­ble the list of Com­mis­sion­ers, and in Oc­to­ber, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment will vote to ap­prove or re­ject the new Com­mis­sion Col­lege in its en­tirety.

Novem­ber has been set as the tar­get date for the new Com­mis­sion to take of­fice.

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The Cyprus prob­lem, the econ­omy and the port­fo­lio of the new Cypriot EU Com­mis­sioner will be on the agenda of a pri­vate meet­ing Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades will have with the new Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Jean-Claude Juncker in Brus­sels on Satur­day. The meet­ing will take place in the con­text of the ex­tra­or­di­nary Euro­pean Coun­cil where EU lead­ers will de­cide on the new Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil and the new High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for For­eign Af­fairs and Se­cu­rity Pol­icy. Cyprus has sub­mit­ted two names for Com­mis­sioner: Euro­pean Peo­ple’s Party and rul­ing DISY MEP Chris­tos Stylian­ides and the Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Party (Evroko) Demetris Syl­louris. The fi­nal de­ci­sion will be taken by the Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion af­ter con­sul­ta­tions with Euro­pean lead­ers.

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