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No support for von der Leyen without invitation to grand coalition, Greens say

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during the opening ceremony of the Ukraine recovery conference in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 11, 2024
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during the opening ceremony of the Ukraine recovery conference in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 11, 2024 Copyright Ebrahim Noroozi/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Ebrahim Noroozi/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Robert Hodgson
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The leading candidates for the Greens, who lost 18 of their 71 seats in European Parliament elections, says its support is still necessary to ensure a stable centrist majority and Ursula von der Leyen's re-election as European Commission president.

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The Greens will not back Ursula von der Leyen in her bid for a second term as European Commission president unless they are included in a broad, centrist coalition with her conservative European People’s Party, group leaders have said while signalling they are ready to compromise on environmental goals.

“We think the only way to create a stable pro-European, pro-democracy and pro-Ukraine majority is by the four parties,” said Greens/EFA group co-chair and joint candidate for the top post in the EU executive Bas Eickhout, while briefing reporters on Wednesday (12 June) ahead of a first post-election meeting in Brussels.

The Dutch lawmaker was listing the three conditions von der Leyen herself has laid down for groups that want to cooperate with the EPP, and for as yet unaligned MEPs who might want to join the group in the coming weeks.

Speaking on election night last Sunday after it became clear the EPP was going to remain the largest group in the parliament and even gain seats, von der Leyen immediately made overtures to the Socialists & Democrats and Renew, the latter liberal group having lost 23 of its 79 seats in a swing to the right.

Eickhout said he did not consider the omission of the Greens as a snub, noting that group chair Manfred Weber had also said that the search for a stable majority would begin with three-way talks. Von der Leyen could not rely on full support even within her own group, he said citing French and Slovenian MEPs.

“Our conclusion is very clear,” Eickhout said. “The only way to create a stable majority is you need a fourth party, and the only party that can deliver on the three criteria that she herself defined…is us.”

“We are willing to talk and we are willing to lend our support to her – if we are part of a coalition,” Eickhout said.

Speaking alongside him at the briefing, Greens/EFA co-president Terry Reintke stressed the the Greens would not enter into any kind of political pact that involved the Eurosceptic ECR group, home to prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which topped the poll in Italy.

She signalled, however, that the Greens would be prepared to compromise aspects of EU environmental policy, against which the EPP spearheaded a backlash in the run-up to the elections.

“Backtracking on the Green Deal is obviously something that some parts also of the forces that we will negotiate with want to do,” said Reintke. “Obviously if you start negotiations, you are not going to get 100% of what was in the green program,” she conceded.

“And now we are ready to become part of this majority because we see the danger if the majority would move to the right,”Reintke said. “We are ready to compromise, we are pragmatic politicians.”

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