Selection for European Union’s leading positions following 2019 European Parliament elections

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Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 2019
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Summary:

Reports, analyses and information regarding the process by which the leading figures of the main institutions of the European Union (EU) are selected, following the European Parliament elections in May 2019.

Further information:

The European Parliament elections - held between 23-26 May 2019 - produced a number of relevant changes in its composition and balance of political power. The outcome of the election was seen by analysts as a major factor influencing the selection of the figures set to lead the main institutions of the European Union - Presidents of the European Commission, the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Central Bank (ECB), as well as the EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs.

One of the main questions resides on the impact of the so-called Spitzenkandidaten process, which led the main political groups to nominate lead candidates prior to the election. These figures would theoretically be the main candidates to lead the European Commission. However, some members of the European Council signalled their resistance in accepting that process as it would restrict the pool of potential candidates. Another sticking issue has to do with gender equality, together with a proportional distribution of the leading positions across the different European regions.

The process was launched during an informal meeting of the European Council on 28 May. A group of six national leaders - representative of the three biggest political groups in the new composition of the European Parliament - was informally designated to further discuss the distribution of the top jobs. A number of senior figures emerged across media outlets as potential candidates for these positions. Despite lengthy negotiations, an overall agreement was not reached at the European Council summit on 20 June. The balance of powers between the main political groups, as well as the role of the Spitzenkandidaten process, were the main sticking points in the talks between the national leaders.

A special meeting of the European Council was held on 30 June 2019 to attempt a deal on the EU top jobs. Negotiations lasted for a number of hours into the following day, to no success. An overall agreement was eventually reached on 2 July. The European Council proposed Germany's Ursula von der Leyen for the presidency of the European Commission, France's Christine Lagarde to head the European Central Bank (ECB) and Spain's Josep Borrell as the EU's High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. These names would eventually require endorsement by the European Parliament. Belgium's Charles Michel was elected as President of the European Council.

At its constituent session on 4 July, the European Parliament expressed its reservations over the selection process for the leading positions of the main institutions of the European Union. Ms von der Leyen engaged in talks with the political groups at the Parliament, ahead of the confirmation vote later in the month. Following the presentation of a statement presentation her political guidelines for the mandate 2019-2024 and a plenary debate, the European Parliament confirmed on 16 July the proposed name of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission, with 383-327 votes.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
Open Europe: Blog, 31/05/2019: The selection of top EU jobs explained https://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/the-selection-of-top-eu-jobs-explained/
Euro|topics, May-July 2019: Is the tug of war over top posts harming the EU? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/220779/
Politico, 04/06/2019: The wrong man for the ECB https://www.politico.eu/article/jens-weidmann-ecb-wrong-man/
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 04/06/2019: Time for Strong New EU Leaders https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/79257
EurActiv, 05/06/2019: MEPs should not approve a Commission President lacking a sustainability agenda https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-environment/opinion/meps-should-not-approve-a-commission-president-lacking-a-sustainability-agenda/
BBC News, 10/06/2019: Who will replace European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48500336
ING: Opinion, 12/06/2019: Europe’s new political landscape to determine top EU jobs candidates https://think.ing.com/opinions/europes-new-political-landscape-will-determine-top-eu-jobs-candidates/
Politico, 17/06/2019: Draft Merkel! https://www.politico.eu/article/draft-angela-merkel-european-council-president/
BBC News, 29/06/2019: Who's in the running for Juncker's post and other EU top jobs? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-48802236/who-s-in-the-running-for-juncker-s-post-and-other-eu-top-jobs
The Economist: Charlemagne's Notebook 01/07/2019: The EU is struggling to agree on candidates for its biggest jobs https://www.economist.com/charlemagnes-notebook/2019/07/01/the-eu-is-struggling-to-agree-on-candidates-for-its-biggest-jobs
Politico, 01/07/2019: How Merkel’s plan for EU top jobs fell apart https://www.politico.eu/article/how-angela-merkel-plan-for-eu-top-jobs-fell-apart-spitzenkandidat-summit/
The Economist: Charlemagne's Notebook, 02/07/2019: EU leaders settle on a new team to run the club https://www.economist.com/charlemagnes-notebook/2019/07/02/eu-leaders-settle-on-a-new-team-to-run-the-club
Politico, 03/07/2019: Winners and losers in race for EU top jobs https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-top-jobs-winners-and-losers/
EurActiv, 03/07/2019: Charles Michel, the compromise builder https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/charles-michel-the-compromise-builder/
The Guardian, 03/07/2019: The Guardian view on Europe’s top jobs: the good, the bad and the compromise https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/03/the-guardian-view-on-europe-top-jobs-the-good-the-bad-and-the-compromise
Euro|topics, July 2019: No top EU jobs for Eastern Europe https://www.eurotopics.net/en/222776/
Euro|topics, July 2019: The right people for the EU's top jobs? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/222692/
ECFR: Commentary, 03/07/2019: Spitzenkandidaten poker https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_spitzenkandidaten_poker
EPRS: At a Glance, July 2019: Outcome of the special European Council meeting of 30 June-2 July http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_ATA(2019)631758
Open Europe: Blog, 03/07/2019: A ‘Merkel-Macron deal’? Europe reacts to the Council’s nominations for EU leadership https://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/a-merkel-macron-deal-europe-reacts-to-the-councils-nominations-for-eu-leadership/
EPRS: At a Glance, July 2019: (Non-)replacement of Commissioners elected to EP http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_ATA(2019)637972
The Conversation, 04/07/2019: Are Europe’s new leaders up to the job? Brussels appointment process raises serious legitimacy questions https://theconversation.com/are-europes-new-leaders-up-to-the-job-brussels-appointment-process-raises-serious-legitimacy-questions-119849
The Economist, 04/07/2019: The tasks facing Europe’s top team https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/07/04/the-tasks-facing-europes-top-team
Politico, 05/07/2019: Who killed the Spitzenkandidat? https://www.politico.eu/article/who-killed-the-spitzenkandidat-european-parliament-election-2019-transition/
Carnegie Europe, 05/07/2019: Can Ursula Von Der Leyen Save the Transatlantic Relationship? https://carnegieeurope.eu/2019/07/05/can-ursula-von-der-leyen-save-transatlantic-relationship-pub-79455
Politico, 05/07/2019: The Belgian job https://www.politico.eu/article/the-belgian-top-jobs-european-council-charles-michel/
Politico, 09/07/2019: European Parliament’s democracy hypocrisy https://www.politico.eu/article/european-parliaments-democracy-gap/
EurActiv, 09/07/2019: Winners and losers in race for the EU’s top jobs https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/winners-and-losers-in-race-for-the-eus-top-jobs/
Politico, 11/07/2019: The network that Ursula built https://www.politico.eu/article/ursula-von-der-leyen-power-network/
Foreign Policy, 15/07/2019: Ursula von der Leyen Isn’t Perfect, but She’s Better Than the Alternative https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/07/15/ursula-von-der-leyen-isnt-perfect-but-shes-better-than-the-alternative-european-commission-eu-epp-spd-sd/
Euro|topics, July 2019: Suspense over von der Leyen vote in EU Parliament https://www.eurotopics.net/en/223358/
The Guardian, 16/07/2019: Who is Ursula von der Leyen, the new EU commission president? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/16/who-is-ursula-von-der-leyen-the-new-eu-commission-president
The Economist, 16/07/2019: Ursula von der Leyen is elected European Commission president https://www.economist.com/charlemagnes-notebook/2019/07/16/ursula-von-der-leyen-is-elected-european-commission-president
Euro|topics, July 2019: What does von der Leyen's election mean for Europe? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/223515/

News
EurActiv, 29/06/2019: EU job carousel keeps turning as new hires announced https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/eu-job-carousel-keeps-turning-as-new-hires-announced/
Politico, 03/06/2019: ‘EU 6’ to discuss Commission president choice https://www.politico.eu/article/european-commission-president-choice-new-meeting-discussion/
Politico, 05/06/2019: EU conservatives see path to power, pressurizing Macron and Liberals https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-conservatives-see-path-to-power-pressurizing-macron-and-liberals/
Reuters, 06/06/2019: EU mini-summit set to discuss top jobs succession https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN1T716N
Politico, 07/06/2019: Macron’s liberal group in damage-control mode https://www.politico.eu/article/france-emmanuel-macrons-liberal-group-in-damage-control-mode-after-report-exposes-power-struggle/
EUObserver, 07/06/2019: EU six hold informal dinner on top jobs https://euobserver.com/eu-election/145108
Politico, 08/06/2019: Last supper of the Spitzenkandidaten https://www.politico.eu/article/last-supper-of-the-spitzenkandidaten/
Politico, 11/06/2019: Macron ‘would support’ Merkel for Commission president https://www.politico.eu/article/macron-would-support-merkel-for-commission-president/
EurActiv, 12/06/2019: Macron says he would back Merkel if she runs for EU leadership https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/macron-says-he-would-back-merkel-if-she-runs-for-eu-leadership/
Deutsche Welle, 12/06/2019: Macron would back Angela Merkel as European Commission president https://p.dw.com/p/3KCiK
Swissinfo.ch, 12/06/2019: Four eastern EU states to discuss top jobs, keen to boost their influence https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/four-eastern-eu-states-to-discuss-top-jobs--keen-to-boost-their-influence/45025894
Politico, 12/06/2019: EPP loves Weber but some party members doubt he is ‘the one’ https://www.politico.eu/article/epp-manfred-weber-commission/
EurActiv, 13/06/2019: Four eastern EU states to discuss top jobs, keen to boost their influence https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/four-eastern-eu-states-to-discuss-top-jobs-keen-to-boost-their-influence/
Politico, 14/06/2019: Pact could mean top EU jobs for Verhofstadt and conservatives https://www.politico.eu/article/renew-europe-election-commission-parliament-verhofstadt/
EurActiv, 19/06/2019: How to pick the next saviour of the euro https://www.euractiv.com/section/economy-jobs/news/how-to-pick-the-next-saviour-of-the-euro/
EurActiv, 20/06/2019: Socialists and liberals kick EPP’s Weber out of EU Commission race https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/socialists-and-liberals-kick-epps-weber-out-of-eu-commission-race/
EUObserver, 20/06/2019: Additional summit over top EU jobs looms https://euobserver.com/political/145224
EurActiv, 20/06/2019: ‘Institutional crisis’ if EU doesn’t pick Spitzenkandidat, EPP warns https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/institutional-crisis-if-eu-doesnt-pick-spitzenkandidat-epp-warns/
EurActiv, 20/06/2019: France and Germany still at odds over EU top jobs https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/france-and-germany-still-wrestling-over-eus-future-top-jobs/
The Guardian, 20/06/2019: Merkel-Macron meeting fails to resolve row over EU leadership https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/20/merkel-macron-meeting-fails-to-resolve-row-over-eu-leadership
Politico, 20/06/2019: Sigmar Gabriel backs Merkel for top EU job https://www.politico.eu/article/sigmar-gabriel-backs-angela-merkel-eu-top-job/
Politico, 21/06/2019: Macron takes swipe at ECB candidate Weidmann https://www.politico.eu/article/macron-takes-swipe-at-ecb-candidate-weidmann/
BBC News, 21/06/2019: EU leaders fail to agree top job candidates in Brussels talks https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48706193
EurActiv, 21/06/2019: No ‘white smoke’ for EU’s top jobs, leaders adjourn until 30 June https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/no-white-smoke-for-eus-top-jobs-leaders-adjourn-until-30-june/
Reuters, 21/06/2019: France's Macron says three lead candidates for EU Commission presidency failed to get support https://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKKCN1TM03D
Bloomberg, 21/06/2019: EU Ditches Early Favorites as Race for Top Jobs Thrown Wide Open https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-21/eu-leaders-fail-to-break-impasse-over-heads-of-commission-ecb
EurActiv, 21/06/2019: Tsipras: Unlike Weber, Timmermans and Vestager had wide support https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/tsipras-unlike-weber-timmermans-and-vestager-had-wide-support/
The Economist, 21/06/2019: EU leaders fail to agree on who should lead the union https://www.economist.com/charlemagnes-notebook/2019/06/21/eu-leaders-fail-to-agree-on-who-should-lead-the-union
Politico, 22/06/2019: EU leaders fail to choose EU leaders https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-leaders-fail-to-choose-eu-leaders/
The Irish Times, 25/06/2019: EU leaders struggling to fill four key top jobs in the institutions https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/eu-leaders-struggling-to-fill-four-key-top-jobs-in-the-institutions-1.3935880
Politico, 26/06/2019: In fight for EU top jobs, conservatives down but not out https://www.politico.eu/article/in-fight-for-eu-top-jobs-conservatives-down-but-not-out-manfred-weber-epp/
Politico, 29/06/2019: Merkel backs ‘real’ lead candidates, tipping Timmermans and Weber for top EU jobs https://www.politico.eu/article/merkel-backs-real-lead-candidates-tipping-timmermans-and-weber-for-top-eu-jobs/
EurActiv, 29/06/2019: Timmermans frontrunner as EU leaders decide against Weber for Commission president https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/timmermans-frontrunner-as-eu-leaders-decide-against-weber-for-commission-president/
RTÉ News, 30/06/2019: Deadlock in Brussels as EU leaders split on Commission President candidate https://www.rte.ie/news/europe/2019/0630/1059263-eu-commission-president-council/
The Guardian, 30/06/2019: Anti-Brexit anglophile Frans Timmermans tipped for top EU post https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/30/anti-brexit-anglophile-frans-timmermans-tipped-succeed-juncker-eu
Politico, 30/06/2019: Conservatives rebel against Merkel’s EU top jobs plan https://www.politico.eu/article/european-council-summit-conservatives-rebel-against-angela-merkel-eu-top-jobs-osaka-g20-plan/
Reuters, 30/06/2019: Emergency EU summit on top jobs runs into trouble again https://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKKCN1TV0DS
Deutsche Welle, 30/06/2019: Talks stall at special EU leadership summit https://p.dw.com/p/3LNIm
EurActiv, 01/07/2019: EU leaders entrenched over top jobs as EPP rebels against Merkel https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/eu-leaders-entrench-themselves-over-top-jobs/
BBC News, 01/07/2019: EU summit: Leaders resume talks after disagreement over top jobs https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48818715
France24, 01/07/2019: EU leaders meeting in Brussels divided over who should get bloc's top jobs https://www.france24.com/en/20190701-eu-leaders-meeting-brussels-divided-over-who-should-get-blocs-top-jobs
EUObserver, 01/07/2019: Still no deal on EU top jobs, but Timmermans leads race https://euobserver.com/political/145304
Reuters, 01/07/2019: Working the night shift, EU leaders try to fill top jobs https://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKKCN1TW1FL
EurActiv, 01/07/2019: Macron condemns EU Council summit as failure https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/macron-condems-eu-council-summit-as-failure/
Euractiv, 02/07/2019: EU leaders agree on top job picks but trouble already looms https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/eu-leaders-agree-on-top-job-picks-but-trouble-already-looms/
BBC News, 02/07/2019: Germany's Ursula von der Leyen nominated to lead EU Commission https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48847200
Deutsche Welle, 02/07/2019: EU leaders pick Germany's Ursula von der Leyen to lead European Commission https://p.dw.com/p/3LTBh
Politico, 03/07/2019: Surprise finish, uncertain consequences in race to choose new EU leaders https://www.politico.eu/article/surprise-finish-uncertain-consequences-in-race-to-choose-new-eu-leaders/
France24, 03/07/2019: New leaders nominated to take the helm of EU after tense talks https://www.france24.com/en/20190703-new-quartet-eu-leaders-brussels-borrell-lagarde-der-leyen-michel-european-union
Politico, 03/07/2019: Central Europe celebrates von der Leyen and Michel’s candidacies https://www.politico.eu/article/central-europe-celebrates-ursula-von-der-leyen-and-charles-michel-candidacies/
EurActiv, 04/07/2019: MEPs furious over Council’s ‘backroom horse-trade’ on EU top jobs https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/meps-furious-over-councils-backroom-horse-trade-on-eu-top-jobs/
The Guardian, 04/07/2019: 'Not the best candidate': Germans condemn own choice for top EU job https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/04/germans-condemn-own-candidate-for-top-eu-job-ursula-von-der-leyen
Politico, 04/07/2019: MEPs lash out at EU leaders over top jobs package https://www.politico.eu/article/meps-lash-out-at-eu-leaders-over-top-jobs-package-ursula-von-der-leyen-european-commission-president/
EurActiv, 04/07/2019: Visegrad leaders claim victory in race for EU top jobs https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/visegrad-leaders-claim-victory-in-race-for-eu-top-jobs/
Politico, 04/07/2019: Ursula von der Leyen: In her own words https://www.politico.eu/article/in-her-own-words-ursula-von-der-leyen-european-commision-president-angela-merkel-cabinet-german-defense-minister/
EurActiv, 05/07/2019: New EU chief seeks ‘smart advice’ on first trip to Brussels https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/new-eu-chief-seeks-smart-advice-on-first-trip-to-brussels/
Politico, 07/07/2019: Timmermans compares failed Commission boss bid to Tour de France crash https://www.politico.eu/article/frans-timmermans-compares-failed-commission-boss-bid-to-tour-de-france-crash-european-commission-spitzenkandidat/
EurActiv, 07/07/2019: Greens set conditions to approve nominee von der Leyen https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/greens-set-conditions-to-approve-nominee-von-der-leyen/
EurActiv, 08/07/2019: German conservative boss warns coalition partners on Europe https://www.euractiv.com/section/eu-elections-2019/news/german-conservative-boss-warns-coalition-partners-on-europe/
EurActiv, 09/07/2019: Sassoli ‘reasonably optimistic’ for von der Leyen vote https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/sassoli-reasonably-optimistic-for-von-der-leyen-vote/
EUObserver, 09/07/2019: Greens yet to be convinced by von der Leyen nomination https://euobserver.com/eu-election/145400
Politico, 10/07/2019: MEPs to von der Leyen: Deal or no deal? https://www.politico.eu/article/ursula-von-der-leyen-european-parliament-meps-deals-greens-ecr/
The Guardian, 10/07/2019: Ursula von der Leyen signals she will not reopen Brexit talks https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/10/ursula-von-der-leyen-signals-not-reopen-brexit-talks-backstop
Politico, 10/07/2019: Greens to reject von der Leyen as Commission president https://www.politico.eu/article/greens-to-reject-von-der-leyen-as-commission-president/
Politico, 10/07/2019: MEPs say von der Leyen still has work to do https://www.politico.eu/article/meps-say-von-der-leyen-still-has-work-to-do/
BBC News, 10/07/2019: Ursula von der Leyen, nominee to head EU, 'hopes UK abandons Brexit' https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48940121
EurActiv, 10/07/2019: Von der Leyen endures day of grilling by MEPs ahead of confirmation vote https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/von-der-leyen-endures-day-of-grilling-by-meps-ahead-of-confirmation-vote/
EUObserver, 11/07/2019: Greens reject von der Leyen's EU commission bid https://euobserver.com/news/145416
EurActiv, 11/07/2019: New EU chief nominee says Brexit could be delayed – again https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/new-eu-chief-nominee-says-brexit-could-be-delayed-again/
Politico, 16/07/2019: Ursula von der Leyen’s narrowly won homecoming https://www.politico.eu/article/ursula-von-der-leyens-european-commission-president-narrowly-won-homecoming/
Deutsche Welle, 16/07/2019: Germany's von der Leyen voted new European Commission president https://p.dw.com/p/3MANg
Reuters, 16/07/2019: Germany's Von der Leyen secures powerful EU executive top job https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN1UA2JO
EurActiv, 17/07/2019: Von der Leyen pressed to deliver on climate after winning EU vote https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-strategy-2050/news/von-der-leyen-pressed-to-deliver-on-climate-after-winning-eu-vote/

Official
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ESO Records
Changes to European Parliament composition following 2019 EP election https://www.europeansources.info/record/changes-to-european-parliament-composition-following-2019-ep-election/

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