The power game of Merkel, Macron and Rutte

Federal Alliance of European Federalists

Federal Alliance of European Federalists

Leo Klinkers, 22 June 2019

According to media reports, the European summit of 20 June 2019 on appointing candidates to succeed Donald Tusk and Jean Claude Juncker ended in a deadlock. Nothing could be further from the truth. At least from the perspective of the three protagonists Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Mark Rutte. They play the power game exactly according to the classic rules.

Rule 1: first eliminate the candidates who are not (or are not allowed to be) eligible. That worked out well on 20 June. The three ‘Spitzen’ candidates, earmarked by the European Parliament, have been rejected.

Rule 2: then discuss in a small group the way in which the real candidates – who have been known already – can be put forward. Merkel, Macron and Rutte will go to the G20 in Japan on 28 and 29 June and will hold these discussions there, far beyond the Brussels limelight. And also to consult some of the G20 key players about the appointment of Rutte as President of the European Council.

Rule 3: launch Mark Rutte at the Brussels summit on 30 June as a candidate to succeed Donald Tusk. The reason for the appointment of Rutte is the interest of Merkel, Macron and Rutte in exchanging the principle of unanimity of decision-making in the European Council for majority voting in order to make it easier to decide on the imposition of sanctions on a country like Iran, for example. See my article about Macron and Rutte.

Rule 4: At the same time, to succeed Juncker, they are nominating a candidate from a small country, such as Greece. As a reward for the efforts to put the financial situation in that country back in order. By appointing the Dutch Rutte as President of the European Council, the Dutch Frans Timmermans will not be able to succeed Juncker. The real reason is that the very ambitious Timmermans as President of the European Commission would pose a permanent threat to any President of the European Council. 

Leo Klinkers

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