Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans is on course to be named the EU’s next chief executive, diplomats and officials said on Sunday, hours before European Union leaders meet to decide who wins the bloc’s top posts.
Barring unexpectedly tough resistance from eastern European countries, Timmermans is set to be chosen as European Commission president after talks between France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany at the G20 summit in Japan, two diplomats and one European Parliament adviser said.
If confirmed, the choice would mark a victory for centrists and liberals, who challenged what they saw as increasingly German domination in Brussels, and would end 15 years of center-right control of the European Commission.
“It looks to be Timmermans for the European Commission president,” one diplomat involved in the talks told Reuters, a view echoed by a second envoy when asked about the selection process for five top posts in a new five-year mandate.
If confirmed as successor to Jean-Claude Juncker, Timmermans, 58, has said his priorities would be combating climate change, ensuring a minimum wage for Europeans and building ties with Africa, home of many of the migrants who have come to Europe in the last few years.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez suggested starting from scratch after an inconclusive second attempt at a summit earlier in June. Many governments want a balance of men and women, and to prevent members of western EU governments taking all the top jobs.
The emerging compromise is to allow Weber to become European Parliament president and give the Commission job to Timmermans, whom France and Spain strongly support.
“Both Spitzenkandidaten are part of the solution — that is very important. As things look now, it won’t come to an institutional conflict,” Merkel told reporters after the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
Female candidates for big Brussels jobs include Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager, now the bloc’s competition commissioner, the Bulgarian head of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, and Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino.
Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Kevin Liffey