Update 2 | EU leaders agree top jobs

European leaders have finally agreed to nominate German Ursula von der Leyen as the next European Commission president

Ursula von der Leyen (main photo) was nominated for European Commission president, while (from top to bottom) Charles Michel, Josep Borrell and Christine Lagarde were nominated for council president, EU foreign minister and ECB chief, respectively
Ursula von der Leyen (main photo) was nominated for European Commission president, while (from top to bottom) Charles Michel, Josep Borrell and Christine Lagarde were nominated for council president, EU foreign minister and ECB chief, respectively

Updated at 7.23pm with final decision

The European Council nominees

  • Ursula von der Leyen (Germany) as Commission president
  • Charles Michel (Belgium) as Council president
  • Josep Borrell (Spain) as high representative for foreign policy
  • Christine Lagarde (France) as European Central Bank chief

The next European Commission president will be Ursula von der Leyen, the German defence minister, as EU leaders coalesced around her name after ditching the socialist Frans Timmermans.

The news was announced by Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday evening after three days of deadlocked talks.

Von der Leyen is a conservative and long-time ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Von der Leyen enjoyed the support of the Visegrad 4 countries that vehemently opposed Timmermans.

The council also agreed to nominate Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as the next council president and Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell as the EU's foreign affairs chief. Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde has been nominated head of the European Central Bank.

European Council President Donald Tusk has had numerous one-on-one meetings with EU leaders in a bid to break the deadlock (Photo: EU)
European Council President Donald Tusk has had numerous one-on-one meetings with EU leaders in a bid to break the deadlock (Photo: EU)

Tuesday's summit in Brussels was supposed to start at 11am but was postponed to late afternoon as Tusk was engaged in one-on-one talks with individual leaders.

The council's nomination for European Commission president will have to be endorsed by the European Parliament, which is where it becomes tricky, given the opposition by senior German socialists and the Greens to Von der Leyen's nomination.

Earlier

This will be the third day of the European Council after inconclusive talks that started on Sunday and dragged on all night into Monday.

Leaders have so far been unable to agree on who should be the next European Commission president.

A proposal put forward by council president Donald Tusk with the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to install the socialist Frans Timmermans as commission president has been rebuked by eastern bloc countries and Italy.

But Merkel also faced rebellion within her own political family, the European People’s Party, with many insisting that Manfred Weber should be commission president in line with the Spitzenkandidat system.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat arriving at the European Council on Tuesday (Photo: EU)
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat arriving at the European Council on Tuesday (Photo: EU)

Going into the meeting on Tuesday, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said his country wanted a commission president who did not have a negative view about the region and because of their disagreement on immigration, Timmermans was not acceptable.

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European Parliament's first session

Meanwhile, today marks the first plenary session of the European Parliament after last May’s elections.

At the opening session in Strasbourg, MEPs from Britain’s Brexit party stole the show by turning their backs while the anthem of the EU was being played.

The European Parliament will have to elect its president, 14 vice-presidents and five quaestors.

The Greens insisted this morning that the decision on EP president should not depend on what EU leaders decide in Brussels.

The Greens have put forward the name of their co-president, Ska Keller, as a candidate for EP president.

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