Austria’s interim chancellor will have little say on EU top jobs

During the EU summit on Sunday (30 June), Austria's new interim chancellor will show no preference as to who will take on the EU's top jobs. [Stephanie Lecocq/ epa]

Austria will be represented by interim Chancellor Bierlein at the forthcoming European Council’s special summit on Sunday (30 June). However, as she does not belong to any political party, the interim head of government will not be able to stand out with her own pronounced opinion. An analysis by Herbert Vytiska for EURACTIV Germany.

Governments constituted of civil servants can rarely accomplish much and Austria’s interim chancellor is starting to feel the effects of this.

Important preliminary decisions taken prior to the special summit on Sunday in Brussels are taken during discussions held within the European Parliament’s political groups.

Yet, Bierlein cannot take part in these as she does not belong to any of them.

If Sebastian Kurz were still Austria’s chancellor, things would be different, as he is part of the top negotiating team of the European People’s Party (EPP). The EPP had even hoped that he would have been able to ensure greater support for the EPP’s top candidate, Manfred Weber.

Austria's interim chancellor won't block the majority on EU top jobs

Federal Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein won’t ask for special favours at an EU summit next Sunday (30 June) aimed at appointing the new President of the European Commission, except when it comes to one thing: Austria’s next EU Commissioner. An analysis by Herbert Vytiska for EURACTIV Germany.

Therefore, as her government spokesperson diplomatically put it, Bierlein will be “open and unbiased” during the special summit in Brussels. In other words, she actually has no preference as to who will take on the EU’s top jobs.

She is ready to have a discussion, supports consensus and hopes that an agreement will be reached at least in the morning hours of Monday. In other words, she will agree with the majority when it comes to the EU’s top jobs.

Her desire is to achieve a balance that reflects Europe’s diversity.

There are no expectations and there is no room for personally motivated manoeuvre or expectations, because – according to the statement – “decision-making is extremely complex.”

What is making the power struggle for EU top jobs so complicated

Five top EU posts need to be distributed soon. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel is fighting with French President Emmanuel Macron, the European Parliament is wrestling with the European Council. EURACTIV’s media partner Der Tagesspiegel provides a Q & A on the issue.

The Austrian chancellor is also completely reserved when it comes to nominating the Austrian EU Commissioner. She said that “the ball is now in the court of the parties.”

Bierlein is in contact with the representatives of the parties represented in the European Parliament, knowing that there needs to be an agreement on a common name. Because of the current free play of forces in the European Parliament, it is now a question of finding a majority.

Not all five Austrian parties in the European Parliament have to agree.

It would be sufficient if Austria’s People’s Party (ÖVP) and Austria’s Socialist Party (SPÖ), ÖVP and Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ), or SPÖ and FPÖ found a common candidate.

[Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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