Commission questioned on possibility of Mogherini becoming Italian PM

Federica Mogherini and her spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic. [European Council]

Commission chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas took a question yesterday (6 December) on the consequences of the possible appointment of EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini as Italy’s premier, following the resignation of Matteo Renzi.

At the midday briefing, Schinas was asked an “institutional” question – what would be the procedure to appoint a successor to Mogherini, who is one of the deputies of Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s foreign policy chief, if she leaves for Rome.

Schinas responded that the High Representative for Foreign Affairs is appointed by member states, in consultation with the Commission President.

“But she’s very busy with foreign policy – right Maja?,” Schinas joked, turning to Maja Kocijancic, Mogherini’s spokesperson. asked Schinas why he didn’t just reply this was a hypothetical question – Schinas, as a rule, rejects questions which contain “if” in their formulation.

But this time Schinas laughed and said it was indeed a hypothetical question, but also an institutional question.

Mogherini is from Renzi’s Partito Democratico, affiliated with the Party of European Socialists. Together with President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, she is the political counterweight to EPP-affiliated leaders Juncker, and Council President Donald Tusk.

Schulz’s return to his native Germany already looks nightmarish to Juncker and Tusk, in case the EPP pushes for one of its representatives to succeed the German Social Democrat.

Schulz’s departure 'gives chance for EU reset’

The decision of European Parliament President Martin Schulz to return to domestic politics, where he is expected to run for chancellor in Germany’s October 2017 election, raises questions about the political future of his Commission counterpart, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The eventual replacement of Mogherini, who was also a good choice in terms of gender balance, complicates further the institutional puzzle and may require a discussion at the highest level.

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