Article published on July 22, 2014
Article published on July 22, 2014

The Eu­ro­pean Union count on 25 mil­lion peo­ple out of work, but only few of them will have ac­cess to the top jobs in the EU In­sti­tu­tions. On July the 16th the 28 Heads of State were sup­posed to de­cide about at least one po­si­tion: the For­eign Pol­icy Of­fice. How­ever it has been im­pos­si­ble to reach an agree­ment. The suc­cess­ful can­di­date would be con­tacted on Au­gust the 30th.

After the not so easy ne­go­ti­a­tion about Jean-Claude Juncker as Pres­i­dent of the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion and the con­tro­ver­sial nom­i­na­tion of  Mar­tin Schulz as Pres­i­dent of the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment, now it is time for the other three EU top jobs: the head of the For­eign Pol­icy, the Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil and the Eu­rogroup.

First things first. It is nec­es­sary to ap­point the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Union for For­eign Af­fairs and Se­cu­rity Pol­icy be­fore any other po­si­tion. Italy has this chair re­served after the vic­tory of the Ital­ian rul­ing party Par­tito De­mo­c­ra­tico in May's Eu­ro­pean Elec­tions. The Ital­ian PM Mat­teo Renzi has pro­posed his For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Fed­er­ica Mogherini to re­place Cather­ine Ash­ton, for the next five years.

At the age of 40, Mogherini has been the head of the Ital­ian diplo­macy since Feb­ru­ary how­ever she did not count on the sup­port needed to suc­ceed dur­ing the last Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil.

Mat­teo Renzi and his Par­tito De­mo­c­ra­tico are in­creas­ingly tak­ing over con­trol of the EU sphere. Thirty one out of one hundred nighty one S&D MEPs are from the coun­try known for their pizza and pasta. Now it is time to see if the weight of the Ital­ians in the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment takes its coun­ter­part in the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion, since the post tar­geted by Italy im­pli­cates also a Vice-Pres­i­dency of the ex­ec­u­tive arm of the EU, the Com­mis­sion.

The ne­go­ti­a­tion of the lat­est sum­mit did not have any re­sult in terms of giv­ing away the roles. ​The cur­rent pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil, Her­man Van Rompuy, is look­ing for a con­sen­sus in the nom­i­na­tion of these posts, nev­er­the­less that con­sen­sus has not been reached. Mogherini has in her favour the fact of being a woman. The ex­pected low num­ber of women in the next EU Com­mis­sion makes nec­es­sary to push until get­ting at least 10 fe­male can­di­dates. This is what the cur­rent fe­male Com­mis­sion­ers asked re­cently to Jucker in a let­ter. On the other hand, the Ital­ian can­di­date to head the Eu­ro­pean diplo­macy is con­sid­ered to have a short ex­pe­ri­ence. But this is not the only crit­i­cism she has re­ceived.


The main op­po­si­tion to the nom­i­na­tion of Mogherini comes from East­ern coun­tries. They con­sider that the Ital­ian politi­cian is too friendly with Rus­sia. It is im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore the cru­cial sit­u­a­tion in the neigh­bour­ing Ukraine that makes more im­por­tant than ever a good choice to guide the ex­ter­nal ac­tion of the Eu­ro­pean Union.

In fact, in the early evening of the Sum­mit, Eu­ro­pean lead­ers pub­lished their agree­ment on the Ukrain­ian cri­sis. They urge for “a gen­uine and sus­tain­able cease-fire by all par­ties to im­ple­ment Pres­i­dent Poroshenko’s peace plan”.

Fur­ther from a sim­ple ques­tion of East-West, North or South, the issue of a High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive with a good knowl­edge of the East seemed to be manda­tory. The re­place­ment of Cather­ine Ash­ton for the next five years will have to deal with the Ukrain­ian cri­sis, wors­ened after the crash of the plane of Malaysian Air­lines that cost the live of hun­dreds of Eu­ro­peans, es­pe­cially from the Nether­lands.

Is­rael and Pales­tine con­flict is also an issue for what the newly elected High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive must work hard. The Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil con­demned “the fir­ing rock­ets from Gaza into Is­rael” and called “on both sides to de-es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion to end the vi­o­lence”. Not sur­pris­ingly the Ital­ian can­di­date to head the EU diplo­macy vis­ited the re­gion just one day be­fore the Sum­mit in Brus­sels.


De­spite the fact that Mogherini is the fron­trun­ner to be­come the next High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, there are other names to be con­sid­ered. Some voices said that Poland was push­ing for their For­eign Min­is­ter, Radek Siko­rski. Kristalina Georgieva, the Bul­garia's EU Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man­i­tar­ian Aid, was an­other name men­tioned among diplo­mats. More ex­pe­ri­enced than Mogherini, Georgieva was awarded as Com­mis­sioner of the year by an EU af­fairs news­pa­per. How­ever, it seems dif­fi­cult to pre­vent Italy from the po­si­tion of High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The issue of choos­ing the next Eu­ro­pean lead­ers do not end with the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive. The Pres­i­dent of the Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil and the Pres­i­dent of the Eu­rogroup will be the next steps. Nev­er­the­less, some ru­mours an­nounced the de­ci­sion would be taken in au­tumn.

The re­place­ment of the Bel­gian Her­man Van Rompuy as Pres­i­dent of the Eu­ro­pean Coun­cil must be done be­fore De­cem­ber. Dif­fer­ently from the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, this po­si­tion is due for two years and a half, but it can be re­newed, as it was the case with Van Rompuy. The Dan­ish PM Helle Thorn­ing-Schmidt is the fron­trun­ner. How­ever, if Italy fi­nally im­posed her can­di­date, one could think that the pres­i­dency of the Coun­cil would be for a cen­tre-right per­son, since these two par­ties usu­ally give away the roles evenly.

The name of the Span­ish Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Luis de Guin­dos is in the bets for the pres­i­dency of the Eu­rogroup, the eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters club. So far, the whole Coun­cil, ex­cept the Nether­lands, agree on this. But the points of view could change after the nom­i­na­tion of the other top jobs. Spain ex­pects to chair the Eu­rogroup, in com­pen­sa­tion of the Span­ish sup­port of Juncker as can­di­date of the EPP for May’s Elec­tions.

All these ne­go­ti­a­tions could sound very com­plex and purely po­lit­i­cal. In­deed they are. We are just ex­pe­ri­enc­ing one more chap­ter of the po­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics in the Eu­ro­pean Union. Maybe this time was not so dif­fer­ent, as they told us to go to the polls on 25th May.