20 July 2024,   05:15
Charles Michel’s new plan to destroy von der Leyen, give the Greek PM her job - POLITICO

Charles Michel has come up with his latest plan to take down Ursula von der Leyen, writes POLITICO.

“The European Council president is floating the idea to EU leaders that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis should take von der Leyen’s job, five EU diplomats and officials who were granted anonymity to speak about the plot told POLITICO. A second term might seemingly be in the bag for von der Leyen but that hasn’t stopped Michel from suggesting alternatives.

The diplomats and officials called it yet another desperate attempt to bring down von der Leyen.

“Michel has a box with banana peels for von der Leyen to slip on and he’s emptying it out”, one EU official said. “In the best case this is creating nuisance, in the worst case this is destabilizing”.

To shove the knife in even further, Michel is suggesting in his side conversations that Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen might be a better European Council president than former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, who is well liked by von der Leyen and whose name is being bandied around for the top job.

“Once again, these are fake news and lies. The President has consulted with all leaders individually on [the] top jobs process. No specific names have been mentioned by the President at this stage,” said Ecaterina Casinge, spokesperson for Michel.

Michel is in charge of shepherding a political deal among European leaders to appoint the heads of the European Commission, the European Council, the European Parliament and the EU’s foreign policy arm.

“There is no role for Michel in this process, except for the one in his head,” one EU diplomat said.

In the days after the European election, a consensus emerged among the 27 heads of state and government that von der Leyen should get a 2nd term and that Costa should be the new European Council president (Michel’s current job). The good personal relationship between the 2 helped to build the consensus around the duo, especially after years of infighting between Michel and von der Leyen.

Despite that, Michel keeps floating alternatives to von der Leyen in his preparatory conversations with EU leaders, such as the Greek prime minister. Mitsotakis has repeatedly ruled out that he is seeking a job in Brussels.

According to Aristotelia Peloni, director of international strategic communications to the Greek prime minister, Mitsotakis “has repeatedly ruled out being interested in any of the top jobs in Brussels. And he has spoken loud and clear. He is 100 percent supporting Ursula von der Leyen for President of the Commission as he has done so from the very beginning”.

Thanasis Bakolas, the secretary general of the European People’s Party, who is Greek, called the Mitsotakis and Frederiksen scenario “utterly ridiculous. It’s not one in a million, not one in a gazillion.”

One of the EU officials, in defense of Michel, said it’s normal for him to test the waters with different names for the top jobs package”, - reads the article.