Some more bruised than others by voters in the European elections, several EU leaders arrived in Brussels for their informal summit calling for a change of tack.
An immediate question is who will be the new president of the Commission. The message seems to be, there’s no rush.
Angela Merkel said: “Jean-Claude Juncker is our top candidate for the presidency of the Commission and now we’ll discuss in the Council, how to take up consultations with the parliament. We know that none of the party groups alone has a majority, therefore it will be important to find a wide majority.”
The German Chancellor, President Hollande of France and Italy’s Matteo Renzi all agreed on the need to revive the economy.
In Britain the success of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) in the European elections has thrust the question of national sovereignty to the fore.
As he arrived in Brussels for the gathering, David Cameron vowed to pass on the message, saying the EU could not “shrug off these results”.
“We need an approach that recognises that Brussels has become too big, too bossy, too interfering. It should be ‘nation states’ wherever possible, Europe only where necessary, and we need people running this organisation who really understand that,” he told reporters.
The British prime minister phoned at least eight other leaders earlier to discuss his concerns over the EU’s powers and leadership.
For some commentators, he may have his work cut out if he tries to stop Juncker. Other parliamentary groups have given the federalist stalwart the green light to try to secure a majority for his bid after his European People’s Party (EPP) emerged from the elections as the largest party, albeit with a reduced number of MEPs.
“I think Cameron will aim to get a blocking minority. In the European Council they vote by qualified majority, so he may already be able to count on Hungary and Sweden’s support – but that doesn’t yet add up to a blocking minority. And I’m not sure whether the other European parties, and even Sweden, are ready for a direct confrontation with the European Parliament, designated via the ballot boxes,” said Jean Quatremer, Brussels correspondent for the French newspaper Libération.
The process to name the new Commission President is likely to unfold slowly over the coming weeks or months. EU leaders are unlikely to announce their nominee until their next formal gathering in Brussels on June 26-27.