Barroso hails choices for top European Union posts

Barroso hails choices for top European Union posts

Von der Leyen must still convince the European Parliament, which she visited yesterday, to approve her in the role, but it is not immediately clear whether she will have the backing of the four main political groups in the assembly.

Angela Merkel faced a wave of fury at home on Wednesday over the nomination of Ursula von der Leyen as the new head of the European Commission that threatened to split her government and cast doubt on her future as chancellor.

Leaders hope the decision to nominate two women to the top of EU's decision-making structures for the first time will send a positive message and fix the damage wrought by such a fractious summit.

The decision must now be ratified by the European Parliament, along with the nomination of Christine Lagarde as head of the European Central Bank.

Von Der Leyen admitted a year ago that her department had made mistakes in allocating contracts worth millions of euros to external consultants, after an investigation by the Bundestag.

Some leaders also discussed the roster of upcoming vacancies, which will include the EU's top diplomat, the president of the European Parliament and the chief of the European Central Bank, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Japan that concluded on Saturday. The nomination of Ursula von der Leyen, a close ally of Angela Merkel and a committed European Union federalist makes her very much a continuity candidate.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde (63) has been nominated as the first woman to lead the European Central Bank (ECB). Afterwards a Government source said Mr Varadkar was of a view that the new candidate should reflect a balance of gender, geography and political grouping, a somewhat cryptic position and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Mr Timmermans.

She can then begin the challenge of trying to forge common platforms among the increasingly fractious European Union member states on a range of testing issues.

Even though the Social Democrat bloc also lost ground, Mr Timmermans, the commission's vice president, emerged as a compromise candidate to head the powerful executive.

"To some, the parliament represents genuine European democracy because of its directly elected members, while to others it is rather the European Council, because of the strong democratic legitimacy of the leaders", Tusk told MEPs.

Arriving on Tuesday, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters: "We're just asking that Mr Timmermans is not acceptable".

If Mrs von der Leyen is confirmed in the role it would be the first time in more than 60 years that a German has been given the post. Then the 751 members of the European Parliament vote on that candidate.

"We are giving an image of Europe that is not serious", French President Emmanuel Macron told journalists after the leaders adjourned until 11 am (0900 GMT) on Tuesday.

"The prospect of Frans Timmermans getting the presidency of the European Commission did worry a lot of Eastern European states like Poland and Hungry", explained Baba.

The EPP has dominated the EU's institutions and stood as the biggest group in parliament over the last five years, but its star is waning and party leaders are still reluctant to relinquish power, despite the election failure.

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the Foreign Minister of Spain, is nominated to be the EU's foreign policy chief. "And I also hope that it will inspire the European parliament in its decisions", he said.

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