Finland misses out on top European Union posts as women make breakthroughs

Saul Bowman
July 4, 2019

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, has emphasised that the leaders would approach day three of the summit with "new creativity", but cautioned that "everyone needs to understand that they need to move a little - and I mean everybody".

However, the European Union leaders found common grounds on Ursula von der Leyen after having rejected Angela Merkel's proposal to nominate Dutch Frans Timmermans to the most powerful job in Brussels.

Pellegrini expressed his belief that the nominations will be okayed by the EP, despite the fact that the Party of European Socialists (PES) and the Green fraction is not supporting von der Leyen.

An ally of Angela Merkel, she got into politics at 43 and has held various local political roles in the Hanover region before becoming the German federal minister of family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth in 2005.

Under the deal reached by the European Union leaders, and backed by conservatives, the center-right will have the presidency of the parliament in the second half of the five-year legislature.

The development angered French President Emmanuel Macron who said Europe's indecision was hurting its image overseas.

He was elected to the Belgian Chamber of representatives in 1999, at 23, where he was the youngest MP in the House.

The discord echoed a wider fracturing of the EU's political center that was evident in May's European Parliament elections that delivered a more fragmented assembly in which no bloc won a majority and far-right and far-left groups performed strongly.

Outgoing European Council chair Donald Tusk hailed "the ideal gender balance" of the outcome and said that current EU Commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Frans Timmermans would become EU commission vice presidents.


According to his entourage, he will even renounce running for the presidency of parliament in a vote on Wednesday.

Von der Leyen played a significant role in modernizing the image of her party during the Merkel years, over which it dominated the political middle ground.

"Neither the "winner" of that process, German centre right MEP Manfred Weber, nor any of the other Spitzenkandidaten" candidates, were selected by EU leaders for the European Commission presidency, the EU's top job, on Tuesday. Now she has called the nomination to succeed Italy's Mario Draghi from 1 November as an "honour" and said she would temporarily give up her role at the International Monetary Fund during the nomination process. Her appointment still requires ratification from the incoming European Parliament composition.

EU leaders agree with build forward their nominations for the bloc's prime jobs, with a girl for the first time proposed as European Commission chief.

The possible election of Italian center-left lawmaker David Sassoli as the president of the European Parliament for the next two-and-half years, which is expected on Wednesday, might also persuade some socialists to back her.

German Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen was chosen to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the commission.

Bloomberg News reported that Belgium's liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel would succeed Tusk as European Council president while the foreign policy post would go to Bulgaria's Mariya Gabriel, a center-right politician. Meanwhile, sources said, a liberal could replace outgoing diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini of Italy. Leaders of several other member states also object to Weber, citing his less than charismatic personality and lack of leadership experience. In any event, since both of Estonia's commissioners to date (Ansip and Siim Kallas) had been men, a woman candidate was necessary to provide gender balance.

But there's a danger that when it's time for members of the European Parliament to vote, the issue of legitimacy will stick in their minds.

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