The EU’s top posts

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June, 2024 at 11:21 am by Andre Camilleri

EU Leaders will be gathering today to decide on the future of the EU’s top posts, as well as the future of Ukraine. This is the normal EU leaders’ summit, and not a special session.

So far, six countries excluding Italy, agreed on Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, Portugal’s António Costa and Estonia’s Kaja Kallas. Personally, I have some reservations about the three of them, albeit for a different reason when it comes to Kallas. By now, you all know what I really think of von der Leyen. Let’s leave aside the investigation probe that is still hanging on her head. The same applies for Portugal’s Costa. How can the EU Commission and the European Council dictate and negotiate with other EU member states about EU values, good governance and loads of other bullocks, when von der Leyen, as well as Costa might be investigated?

With respect to Kallas, I am not sure about her profile. Her bias towards Eastern Europe might distract her and leave the southern Mediterranean security, as well as Africa exposed. Besides, I believe that Kallas is not Federica Mogherini. Nobody can match the latter’s diplomatic skills. The EU Foreign Affairs post is still very much attached to a diplomatic discourse and soft power, although making a complete shift to hard power. Diplomacy, soft power and peace are the foundations and the raison d’etre of the EU. Well, I hate saying it, but the outgoing HRVP Josep Borell did an abysmal job. He was not allowed to do his diplomatic job properly. However, it is his fault because an alpha male and ruthless personality like von der Leyen must be put in her place. I wouldn’t have accepted such behaviour. And if von der Leyen is allowed another term, we require commissioners around her that can take a stand. We do not require commissioners that bow their head. The newly-elected parliamentarians must grill commissioners diligently.

From what I know, Ursula bullied everyone. Borrell’s personnel, and his chef de cabinet, were bullied even in the Hebdo meetings. They hardly spoke because Borrell was afraid of his boss. On a personal level, I respect the person because I got to know him when I was posted in Brussels in the Political and Security Committee. However, I knew from the outset that he would fail the post. His age did not work in his favour. His first test was when he visited Moscow. Politically, Sergey Lavrov literally chewed him up and spat him out in front of the media. I felt sorry for him back then. And no, this is not Vladimir Putin whispering in my ears, Saviour.  

Also, Borrell was manipulated because of his age. At times, he even read and said things in the Foreign Affairs Council that did not make sense, reminiscent of Joe Biden’s gibberish on the other side of the Atlantic. Surely, it suited von der Leyen and her team. Certainly, the defining moment of consuming power within the Berlaymont building was the war in Ukraine. von der Leyen took centre stage and made Borrell completely redundant. However, with Kallas it might be different.

Surely, Kallas will not tolerate Usrula’s bossy and patronising behaviour, just like Kristalina Georgieva did not tolerate Martin Selmayr’s ruthless tactics and Jean Claude Juncker’s lousy decisions. However, I still think that compared to von der Leyen, Juncker offered a vision for Europe, especially with the Juncker plan. What we surely need is a president of the European Commission that offers a proper vision for Europeans beyond defence. We need someone who presents to Europeans aspirations that they can truly make it in life irrespective of who they are; Marine Le Pen take note. If we look at our French brothers and sisters, it is surely not looking good.

Also, if we evaluate Roberta Mestola to von der Leyen there is surely no comparison. At least when Metsola speaks, staged or not, she does offer a vision for Europe, albeit a little unclear when it comes to security. Let’s leave aside the foreign affairs meddling. I truly hope that if Metsola is approved, the foreign affairs topic is left to Kallas or whoever is appointed. Please, do not meddle with foreign affairs, it is not your topic. The European Parliament’s role is not foreign affairs. There is the AFET Committee there. So, let them meet with Think Tank groups, and allow them enough time to visit the Political and Security Committee. The president of the European Parliament’s job is to accelerate legislations that leave a positive mark on the quality of life of Europeans. Speak about solar rights, the environment, human rights and the right to adequate green space. My appeal to those elected, and to the incoming president of the European Parliament, please do push for a Mental Health Strategy for Europe. Good luck! 

Besides, the top posts discussion, from what I have read in the media, it transpires that President Volodymyr Zelensky will also be attending the Euroepan Council. The visit of Zelenskyy is primarily linked to the EU’s accession talks that started on Tuesday, and other related initiatives piloted by Europe to help Ukraine. What is not yet clear to me is the security pact that will be signed with Ukraine. What I understand is that in view that Ukraine is allowed to join the EU as quickly as possible, surely, when it comes to arms aggression, Ukraine must be assisted by all EU member states under Article 42.7 and Article 222. Indeed, at the point of Ukraine joining the EU, if they are still at war with Russia, they would invoke Article 42.7 Collective Defence and Article 222 Solidarity Clause of the Treaty of Lisbon. What I mean is that if a security pact is ought to be signed on behalf of the EU, they must always consult and agree to with all EU member states. The EU cannot sign on behalf of member states without consulting them. They do this with the EU-NATO declarations, and they did so with the UK on foreign policy upon BREXIT.

Lastly, I truly hope that whatever the outcome of the negotiations is, they all work in the interest of Europeans.

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