Sánchez and Macron open the top EU jobs talk

Activists wearing masks of French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez perform at an artwork made of weapons resembling the iron throne of the TV program 'Game of Thrones in front of the Brandeburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, 11 May 2019. [Alexander Becher/EPA/EFE]

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Monday (27 May) and is expected to lobby for several socialist and social-democrat candidates for EU top jobs, as member states and political groups start jockeying for position.

The two leaders will exchange views on the allocation of EU top jobs when they meet in the Elysée Palace at 8 pm (1800 GMT), a French communiqué said.

Sánchez’s Socialist party (PSOE) finished first in Spain in the European election. Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National won most votes in France but the margin of victory over Macron’s party was narrow.

EU leaders will meet on Tuesday for a first discussion on the distribution of the EU top jobs, which include the Commission President, the Council President, the President of the European Parliament, the High Representative/Commission Vice President, and the President of the Central Bank.

Spitzenkandidaten survives Sibiu, Tusk calls summit for 28 May

Europe’s leaders on Thursday (9 May) agreed to attend an emergency summit immediately after the EU elections on 28 May, as European Council President Donald Tusk said he wanted to have the distribution of the bloc’s top jobs decided in June.

Spain has a strong candidate for the post of Commission vice president, responsible for the economy and the euro, in the person of Josep Borrell, currently minister of foreign affairs in Sánchez’s cabinet. Borrell, a well-respected PSOE politician, was president of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2007.

Sánchez is also likely to test the waters for the PES Spitzenkandidat Frans Timmermans to be the next European Commission President. In case a “progressive” coalition is built in the next European Parliament, Timmermans’ chances would be even bigger.

But Macron, who has made it clear he is not committed to following the Spitzenkandidaten system, probably prefers the IMF chief Christine Lagarde. The former French finance minister reportedly has powerful allies in the EU executive, including the secretary-general Martin Selmayr.

The race for EU top posts heats up

Familiar faces and new names will be competing for the EU’s top jobs, as capitals are starting to manoeuvre and prepare the ground for their preferred candidates, EURACTIV has found out after talking to EU officials and diplomats.

In case the posts of the high representative or of Commission chief go to another group, Sánchez has a candidate for Council president in Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa. Donald Tusk, whose second 2.5-year mandate expires later this year, is expected to take the job of the president of the European People’s Party from Joseph Daul.

The socialists would probably not mind if Manfred Weber, the EPP Spitzenkandidat, gets the post of President of the European Parliament.

In case they succeed in putting in place Timmermans as the Commission chief, they would not object either if Kristalina Georgieva, the former Bulgarian Commission Vice President, became the High Representative, diplomatic sources said.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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