The new European top chef: an ambitious choice and a victory for the French team (V2)

(B2) The discussions of the last few days to choose the next leaders of Europe have been so chaotic, so difficult that they let appear a cheap compromise, with weak personalities. Quite the opposite happened

D. Tusk, E. Macron and A. Merkel in consultation (credit: European Council)

Ambition is on point

The four personalities found - the German Ursula von der Leyen at the European Commission, the Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde at the European Central Bank, the Spaniard Josep Borrell at European diplomacy and the Belgian Charles Michel as 'chairman' of the European Council - have all in common to be experienced and to want to push Europe to its limits. Not only do they carry European integration in their speeches, but they have each proven it in actions and projects in the past. They complement each other. It is rather rare in Europe.

A balanced solution

The desired balance is almost perfect: gender parity maintained (women occupying more decision-making positions than men), the presence of small and large countries, from southern and northern Europe. The leading quartet is completed by two or three vice-presidents (F. Timmermans, Mr. Vestager and possibly Mr. Sefkovic), which makes it possible to adjust the balance. There was also little criticism once the agreement was sealed at the top while the European 'bubble' is always quick to complain.

A Franco-German couple on the move…

This choice is a fairly clear victory for the Franco-German couple who succeeded in asserting their views, without imposing them by force. It took a cataclysm for this: a failed summit on Monday, sounding like a failure with a touch of bitterness. This feeling of failure will be analyzed later. But we can already estimate, a few hours after the dust settled, that it was somewhat exaggerated, even fanned. The feeling of disorder made it possible to gently eliminate Spitzenkandidat and personal ambitions.

… + alliances that make the deal invincible

The somewhat unnatural, but very real, alliance between the Visegrad and the supporters of European integration. We then returned to the three basic principles of European policy. Firstly, it is the Heads of State and Government of the '28' who punctuate the decisions. Secondly, when the Franco-German couple is united, it has real momentum. Thirdly, when he knows how to create alliances around him, he is almost invincible… And, in the end, Europe wins! Just look at the resulting European leadership quartet — Germany, France, Spain, Belgium —. Four of the main countries which, today, unambiguously display a real European ambition (and have the means).

The meaning of French tactics

It is also necessary to note the particular work of the team of Emmanuel Macron. We can like, or not like, the style of the President of the Republic. But its success is indisputable. France obtains a strategic post, that of the European Central Bank, where it will be able to print or accentuate notable reforms for European monetary policy. The presidency of the European Commission, like the post of head of European diplomacy, is entrusted to inveterate Francophiles. Ditto for the presidency of the European Council entrusted to a man who, moreover, is close to the French president. In other key positions, there are Francophones and Francophiles. And Paris still has an ace up its sleeve, that of the French commissioner who has not yet been appointed.

But let's keep a cool head

Convinced of the need for Europe, friends of France, the persons named are nevertheless personalities in their own right, with their character, well forged by their experience. They may not let their position be told as easily as one might hope in Paris or Berlin…” We'll see » as Josep Borrell told us 😉

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).