European government leaders opt for a ready-made trio for top positions

Over the next five years, Kaja Kallas, who is now Estonia’s prime minister, will become Europe’s foreign policy chief. Portugal’s Antonio Costa will become president of the European Council, the meeting of government leaders. And if the European Parliament agrees, Ursula von der Leyen will once again become president of the European Commission.

Whereas five years ago it took four days to reach a result, this time it was almost not even necessary to meet. The names that emerged from the consultation had been circulating for months. Ten days ago, European government leaders also attempted to officially adopt the list, but were unsuccessful.

There was uncertainty about Antonio Costa, against whom a criminal investigation in his own country has not yet been fully concluded. Later, a second term for Von der Leyen also did not seem as clear as initially thought. They decided to think about it for another week and a half.

What in Brussels is called thinking, in others is called “calling.” Two by two, different government leaders take on the task of working on their colleagues. The Dutchman Mark Rutte, who already has half a meter in his new position, took on the task of lobbying in favor of Kaja Kallas, the liberal candidate, together with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. For example, two others argued on behalf of the Christian Democrats and a third pair called on behalf of the Social Democrats. ‘The platform’ is what these three parties are called. They sit at the center of the European Parliament and have a small majority there after the elections.

Approval required

This is important for the next phase, because Ursula von der Leyen’s nomination still needs to be approved by the European Parliament. Only then can Kaja Kallas also be named.

Some government leaders, the most prominent of whom was the Italian Giorgia Meloni, opposed the mutual intrigues that had preceded the nominations. She called it “unreal” how the old political groups divided power between themselves, while the European elections had clearly made her family’s politician, the nationalist-conservative ECR, the third group in the European Parliament.

Government leaders have certainly pleased Meloni: they may have promised her that Italy would receive a high commissioner position. Meloni also hinted at this in a post on X. Meloni ultimately abstained from voting on Von der Leyen. Only Hungarian leader Victor Orban voted against.

After the summit, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas happily said that she, von der Leyen and Costa are “a great team.” The European Parliament will vote on von der Leyen’s nomination on July 18 in Strasbourg. Mark Rutte will no longer be there. He said goodbye to the European Council on Thursday evening with a last, long hug with Emmanuel Macron.

Also read:

Ursula von der Leyen wants a new term as President of the European Commission. How a miracle mother became the face of Europe

Ursula von der Leyen wants another five-year term as president of the European Commission. She was taught political leadership from an early age, along with media strategy.

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