Open Europe Blog

Herman waves goodbye to the European
Council Presidency – who will succeed him?

As we laid out in our flash analysis yesterday, the outcome of tomorrow’s EU ‘top jobs’ summit is looking increasingly predictable. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s efforts to force his Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini into the High Representative post look set to pay off (with Merkel deciding to keep her powder dry for the almighty scrap over the Economic and Monetary Affairs portfolio). Spanish Europe Minister Íñigo Méndez de Vigo this morning tweeted that Mogherini is the “clear favourite” to take over from Baroness Ashton.

Hence, the flip side of the High Representative post going to the relatively dovish Italy seems to be the European Council President post going to a Central and Eastern European member state, with Poland’s Donald Tusk (who has been officially endorsed by David Cameron), Latvia’s Valdis Dombrovskis and Estonia’s Andrus Ansip all in the mix. Tusk himself is staying tight-lipped, with the Polish government’s spokeswoman this morning claiming that he had not yet made up his mind – a notable change of emphasis from Tusk’s previous outright denials. Somewhat amusingly, Gazeta Wyborcza reports that the person responsible for potentially changing the Polish Prime Minister’s mind is…his wife. Mrs Tusk allegedly thinks the post will mean “[more] prestige, [more] money and less pressure.”

Of course, with it being the EU, a last minute surprise cannot be completely ruled out, and as in 2009 we could end up with some completely unexpected names that had not been on the radar. However, given the severity of developments in Ukraine – and also in the Middle East – there will be pressure on EU leaders to take concrete measures instead of wrangling about personalities.

EU leaders will also debate the allocation of key posts within the Commission, and Cameron will be pushing for the UK nominee Lord Hill to get an important economic post like internal market or competition, although these are not set to be announced at least until September 8th.

To follow tomorrow’s developments live make sure to stay tuned to @OpenEurope, @LondonerVince and @pswidlicki.

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