The European Union’s 28 nations meet for a second time on Sunday to try and break an impasse over who should take Brussels’s biggest jobs.
It’s a vote that has far-reaching consequences. President Donald Trump has weighed in and French President Emmanuel Macron warned of “a cycle of institutional dysfunction” if no decision is made on Sunday.
EU leaders are hoping to decide on the next heads of the European Commission, European Council, and European Central Bank. Also up for grabs, the roles of foreign policy chief and president of the European Parliament.
Filling the job vacancies has been no easy feat. It was triggered by the EU Parliament election in May but the bloc failed to agree on who should take the positions over a week ago.
“I note with some pleasure… that it appears it’s not that easy to replace me,” Jean-Claude Juncker the outgoing European Commission president said.
EU leaders are keen to find his replacement before Tuesday when the European Parliament holds its first session in Strasbourg.
It seemed for a long time that the German politician Manfred Weber, who has served as the leader of the European People’s party in the European Parliament, would take Juncker’s spot.
But French President Emmanuel Macron objected to his appointment, saying he was unqualified for the job.
It caused an EU deadlock and a clash with Germany, as Weber was Chancellor Angela Markel’s top pick as she faces pressure back home to support a German candidate.
But on Saturday, it looked likely the impasse could be broken.
Frans Timmermans, a center-left Dutchman, now appears to be the frontrunner to become the next European Commission president in a compromise that could see Weber becoming president of the European Parliament, according to reports.
Angela Markel said in reference to Timmermans and Weber on Saturday: “Both Spitzenkandidaten, whom I would call the only real Spitzenkandidaten, are in the race and have both made sure that the Spitzenkandidaten process will remain in the future.”
Macron and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez have both previously endorsed Timmermans for the job.
But the Dutch candidate, who is the first vice-president of the current EU Commission, will have fight off objections from eastern Europe’s Visegrad group.
Timmermans has been central to pursuing rule of law infringements on Poland and Hungary, who have allegedly undermined EU standards of democracy.
But there is still all to play for and of course, other contenders who could be thrown into the mix.
Macron is reported to favor the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.
While the Danish EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, is also tipped for the top job. Her no-nonsense approach has seen her take on the U.S. tech giants Apple, Amazon, and Google parent Alphabet.
Without naming the Danish politician but in mention of her work, Donald Trump said in an interview with Fox News last week: “She hates the United States perhaps worse than any person I’ve ever met.”
Whoever wins the EU’s top job will need the support of at least 21 of the 28 EU leaders as well as a majority in the European Parliament when it meets in two days time.
Brussels is hoping to agree to a deal over dinner but breakfast has been scheduled for Monday morning if EU leaders remain at loggerheads.