Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was close to becoming European Council President
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was very close to becoming President of the European Council. When no agreement was reached on who would take over the European Union leadership for two days running, two agreements were submitted for selection.
Muscat was been mentioned as one member of a particular group with Michel Barnier of the People’s Party being named as President of the European Commission, Joseph Muscat from the Socialist group named as President of the European Council, Margaret Vestagher as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Manfred Weber as President of the European Parliament. This first group was mainly being pushed by France.
The second group of names were German People’s Party Ursula van der Leyen, Belgian Liberal Charles Michel as President of the European Council, Spanish Socialist Josep Borrell as High Representative of Foreign Affairs and the Bulgarian Sergei Stanishev and Manfred Weber as President of the European Parliament, with both candidates doing half a term each. This second group was mostly being pushed by Germany.
After hours of negotiations, German Ursula van der Leyen – known to be quite close to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – and names associated with her group were chosen, including Charles Michel as President of the European Council who will be occupying these top two positions within the European Union.
This option was considered more geographically representative, and also included politicians from the East. However, once again this option means that the Socialists will only be left with the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the Presidency of the European Parliament.
Moreover, after the People’s Party Prime Ministers went against an agreement reached by Angela Merkel for Frans Timmermans to become President of the European Commission, it would have been very difficult for the People’s Party to refuse Merkel again.
Had Prime Minister Joseph Muscat been nominated as President of the European Council, he would have had to resign from his position as Prime Minister by 31 October this year.
The Prime Minister is now not bound by any date and can remain in office until the next election.