The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) won the most votes in the EU elections but did not manage to impose its Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber as the next European Commission boss. The EU’s biggest and oldest political group is now in the throes of a heated debate: what to do next?
An EPP insider spoke to EURACTIV on condition of anonymity about the ongoing developments in the party. The source said the EPP will insist on the Bavarian politician as next Commission chief, despite mounting pressure from Paris to back down, which has pitted Emmanuel Macron against German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the EU Council.
Meanwhile, a number of alternative candidates have also popped up as a compromise solution to reach common ground with the EU liberals and socialists. Among them is Kristalina Georgieva, a former Bulgarian EU Budget Commissioner who resigned in 2017 to be the chief executive of World Bank.
But the EPP source came out strongly against Georgieva, saying that, although she is a woman and the gender card may be strong, she is in not suitable to lead the EU executive.
“Georgieva is the candidate of Orbán,” the source emphatically said. The Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been temporarily suspended from the EPP over alleged violations of EU rule-of-law principles.
The source also referred to her unsuccessful bid to be the UN secretary-general, saying that she “made a mess” there.
While she served as Commission vice-president, Georgieva travelled extensively to attend UN-related events, in an obvious attempt to position herself as a candidate for UN Secretary General. MEPs even asked the Commission if such expenses were justified.
When Georgieva flopped at the auditions and the UN top job went to Portugal’s António Guterres, she left the Commission to take a job in the World Bank.
“She has never been elected at any level and she even left in the middle of multiannual financial framework (MFF) negotiations,” the source said, adding the final piece of criticism:
“She comes from a country outside the eurozone and outside Schengen”.
In January 2017, EURACTIV revealed that Christopher Steele, a former member of Britain’s MI6 intelligence, who is the author of a dossier of alleged links between US President Donald Trump and Russia, had also investigated Georgieva.
Steele investigated her alleged links with Multigroup, a post-Communist business empire led by Iliya Pavlov, who was assassinated in Sofia in 2003 but found no proof.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]