France, Germany eyeing German defence minister von der Leyen as Juncker’s successor

France, Germany eyeing German defence minister von der Leyen as Juncker's successor

President of the European Council Donald Tusk has promoted Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen as a potential successor to Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission, Die Welt reported citing sources after EU leaders found themselves in a deadlock while deciding who will lead the bloc’s institutions.

A close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ursula von der Leyen may become the European Commission President while IMF head Christine Lagarde may take the place of the president of the European Central Bank (ECB) following an agreement between France and Germany, according to Die Welt.

A diplomatic source familiar with the matter stated that French President Emmanuel Macron had suggested Lagarde as head of the ECB to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Die Welt reported, citing the source that Merkel was “very positive” about the idea.

The paper notes that other candidates for European Council President included Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel and Slovakia’s Maros Sefcovic for the role of EU foreign policy head.

The summit in Brussels that started on 30 June hasn’t resulted in an agreement, with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis slamming the suggested candidate for the new chief of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, as “absolutely unacceptable” while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez supported Timmermans candidacy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, has emphasised that the leaders would approach day three of the summit with “new creativity”, but cautioned that “everyone needs to understand that they need to move a little – and I mean everybody”.

It for this reason that the summit was driven into crisis as heads of governments vacillated between side meetings on the evening of 30 June and 1 July.

EU leaders spent around 18 hours on 1 July debating a pool of candidates to head the European Council, European Commission, European Parliament, Central Bank, and EU External Action Service.


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