“The Commission Juncker will remain in office until the Commission Von der Leyen is named”, has pointed to this Thursday, the official spokesman of the Commission, Mina Andreeva. “The Commission’s powers are limited to deal with so-called current affairs (…) without pre-empt the policy decisions of the future Commission,” he added.
Von der Leyen was appointed last July 2 as president-elect of the Commission by unanimous agreement of 28 Governments of the EU and was scheduled to assume the office this November 1. But the parliamentary ratification of its mandate, it has encountered several times and has ended up delaying its arrival to the pinnacle of the community Executive.
The ordeal started with a vote in the European Parliament about his candidacy that is only surpassed by nine votes difference, despite having, in theory, with the support of the three main groups of the Camera (popular, socialists and liberals). The following rubbing, relatively minor, was the creation of a vice-president of the Commission “to protect the style of european life”, responsible for, among other things, the management of the migration policy. The amalgam between migration and threat to the european social model provoked the ire of socialists and, above all, liberal.
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The shock of finality, which has caused the delay in the relay, came with the rejection of the commissioners proposed by France, Romania and Hungary, those who own Von der Leyen had interviewed and accepted as a candidate to be valid. In the case of Sylvie Goulard, the frustrated commissioner French, even assigned one of the portfolios most potent of the Commission, with broad powers over the policy, defense, industrial and digital.
Von der Leyen is waiting for the confirmation of new applicants from these three countries. His team is confident that the process is encarrile again, and that the investiture vote can be held on the 23rd of November, in the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. If so, the former minister of the German Defense could take over from Juncker as of 1 December. But the schedule is very tight and community sources already shuffled also on 1 January 2020 as a possible date for the inauguration. Nor does it rule out a longer delay if any of the new candidates, in particular the French Thierry Breton, raised by the rejection in parliament. Or if Romania, which still has not appointed a new applicant, is delayed in the election.
But beyond the alteration in the calendar of the relay, the difficulties of Von der Leyen have exposed, above all, the vulnerability of a president who arrived with the backing of the Governments of the EU but has not yet won the favor of a stable majority in the European Parliament.
The successive tripping of Von der Leyen at the start of the legislature, have left the elected president in a very compromising situation, tossed about by the clash between his own training, the European people’s Party (EPP), and liberals of the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
Von der Leyen came into office driven by the leader of the gaul, and at the expense of the ouster of the head of the cartel of his own party, the German conservative Manfred Weber. The president-elect has been now caught between loyalty to his mentor and the desire for revenge that nest in the EPP. The other catapult of Von der Leyen were countries such as Hungary and Poland, under surveillance for his alleged authoritarian drift, and who had boycotted the nomination alternative to Weber, who was the socialist Frans Timmermans, current commissioner in charge of the monitoring of the respect for the rule of law.
The months of transition since July have shown that Von der Leyen has difficulties to find the balance between the conflicting forces that boosted the charge. And as soon as she is close to some run the risk of losing the support of the other.
“Von der Leyen has only in the Parliament of a majority which, in addition to fragile, is variable in function of each issue,” notes a source in parliament. And remember that Von der Leyen arrived introduced by Macron, with whom he has already had a serious setback on account of the refusal to the commissioner of French, and by the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, that can change sides as soon as they see necessary. “In the Council may be left without any support when you leave [the German chancellor, Angela] Merkel”, prevents this analysis.
For the moment, the stumbling of Von der Leyen forces Juncker to follow the face of a European Commission functions. And the idling of the Commission coincides with a delicate moment for the EU, with the Brexit way of a possible outcome after the elections in the Uk on the 12th of December, and with the battle in tariff with EE UU always at risk of an unexpected flare-up.
The current Commission, in addition, gets decimated to the extension (with two commissioners-less, for the premature departure of the commissioner from Romania and Estonia), with several more members pending as of your next destinations of the current, and with the president Juncker to face some physical ailments, which in August took him to the operating room and that this November 11, will undergo another operation.