By Alastair Macdonald
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Sunday’s European Parliament election has ushered in a major reshuffle of top jobs in EU institutions. National leaders meet on Tuesday to open discussions on the succession.
The posts include presidents of the three political bodies — the executive European Commission (currently Jean-Claude Juncker), the Council of national leaders (Donald Tusk) and the European Parliament (Antonio Tajani) — plus the European Central Bank (Mario Draghi) and the EU’s foreign policy chief (Federica Mogherini).
National leaders meet on Tuesday to haggle and prepare to bargain with EU lawmakers (MEPs). Any deals must balance the interests of: states and Parliament; key states; big countries and small; Europe’s north, south, east and west; men and women; and pan-EU political parties, right, left and centre.
Who gets what is anyone’s guess at this stage but these are some of the names in the mix for the Brussels political posts:
MANFREDWEBER – German, centre-right EPP, 46, MEP.
Led EPP’s winning election campaign. Has public backing from German Chancellor Angela Merkel but centrist French President Emmanuel Macron and others reject a parliamentary push to bind leaders into choosing an MEP “Spitzenkandidat” to lead the executive European Commission in Brussels. Many dismiss Weber for lacking national government credentials.
FRANSTIMMERMANS – Dutch, centre-left S&D, 58, Juncker’s deputy, former foreign minister, fluent in five EU languages.
Has credentials and oratory that Weber lacks but hampered by Socialists trailing behind in EU and national elections.
MICHELBARNIER – French, EPP, 68, EU Brexit negotiator, former foreign minister, MEP and EU commissioner.
Dark horse, did not run in election but discreetly working to capitalise on respect of leaders for Brexit negotiations; energy belies age; as a moderate French conservative, seems to have backing of liberal Macron and centre-right Merkel. Has respect in Parliament for keeping it in the loop on Brexit talks. He can cite Brexit as excuse for not seeking EPP nomination as he did in 2014, when he lost out to Juncker.
MARGRETHEVESTAGER – Danish, ALDE, 51, EU commissioner.
Promoted by ALDE centrists in campaign, attacks on big U.S. firms’ tax affairs raised profile; as a liberal and a woman, she could please Macron, Merkel and several liberal prime ministers.
KRISTALINAGEORGIEVA – Bulgarian, EPP, 65, CEO World Bank, former EU commissioner and World Bank economist.
Quietly touted by some eastern governments as first EU chief executive from ex-Communist bloc. Gender also an advantage, she won kudos for frank talk while managing EU budget until 2016.
CHRISTINELAGARDE – French, EPP, 63, International Monetary Fund managing director, former finance minister after success as corporate lawyer.
Another dark horse, cited by those who see leaders as keen for a woman to run the EU for the first time. Credited for keeping U.S.-based IMF helpful to Europeans during the euro zone crisis.
DALIAGRYBAUSKAITE – Lithuanian, 63, EPP-allied, steps down as national president in July, ex-EU commissioner and finance minister.
A decade at the EU summit table gives her profile to replace Tusk at the European Council. But some see her as too blunt and too hostile to Russia to guide EU leaders toward consensus.
MARKRUTTE – Dutch, 52, ALDE, prime minister since 2010.
Summit veteran, his appetite for a Brussels job is unclear. Hawkish fiscal and free enterprise views could test his ability to build consensus in Council or Commission, but he is effective.
VALDISDOMBROVSKIS – Latvian, 47, EPP, Commission vice president for the euro, former prime minister.
An engineer and central bank economist, has won credit for rigour and fairness in euro zone but has a low public profile.
GUYVERHOFSTADT – Belgian, 66, ALDE, liberal leader and Brexit point man in Parliament, former prime minister.
Arch euro-federalist, contender for Parliament president; some see the five-year mandate split in two, perhaps with Weber.
ANDREJPLENKOVIC – Croatian, 49, EPP, prime minister.
Former MEP from Union’s newest member has been courting EPP and eastern allies, diplomats say, with an eye to Brussels job.
MAROSSEFCOVIC – Slovakian, 52, S&D, EU energy commissioner
Touted by some eastern officials. But he lost the Slovak presidential election in March and dropped out of a two-man race to be S&D’s EU lead candidate in favour of Timmermans.
JOSEPBORRELL – Spanish, 72, S&D, foreign minister.
Re-election last month, rare among Europe’s Socialists, has fired up Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to push for Spaniards and, despite age, former EU parliament president is being mentioned.
NADIACALVINO – Spanish, 50, S&D, economy minister.
Until last year the Commission’s top budget official, she too could benefit from Sanchez’s campaign.
CHARLESMICHEL – Belgian, 43, ALDE, prime minister.
May be out of a job soon as Belgian parties start work on building new ruling coalition after federal election last Sunday. Could fancy replacing Tusk after years at summit table.
ALEXISTSIPRAS – Greek, 44, GUE, prime minister.
A wild card. But he’s gone from being the bad boy of Europe, defying Merkel over Greece’s euro zone debt to star pupil for getting with the EU programme. And he may soon need a job after calling a snap election following poor EU election results.
ALEXANDERSTUBB – Finnish, 51, EPP, European Investment Bank vice president, former prime minister and finance minister.
Multilingual europhile, lost to Weber in EPP Spitzenkandidat race but this consummate EU networker is a perennial contender.
HELLATHORNING-SCHMIDT – Danish, 52, S&D, CEO of NGO Save the Children, former prime minister.
Another name routinely mentioned, being female is an advantage but centre-left woes in the EU hurt chances.
ANGELAMERKEL – German, 64, EPP, chancellor since 2005.
She denies any EU ambition as she serves out her last term. Her stature could bolster an EU beleaguered by nationalists but might also provoke more charges it is a vehicle for German rule.
Part of the mix, especially in arm-wrestling between France and Germany, is who will run the ECB. Possibles include:
JENSWEIDMANN – German, 51, heads Bundesbank central bank
FRANCOISVILLEROY DE GALHAU – French, 60, heads central bank
OLLIREHN – Finnish, 57, heads central bank
ERKKILIIKANEN – Finnish, 68, former central bank head
KLAASKNOT – Dutch, 52, central bank head
(Editing by Catherine Evans)