Italian PM hits out at EU top jobs backroom deal

  26 June 2024    Read: 759
Italian PM hits out at EU top jobs backroom deal

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni slammed backdoor deals on EU top jobs and said it was “surreal” the opinions of European voters were not taken into account.

“There are those who argue that citizens are not wise enough to take certain decisions and that oligarchy is the only acceptable form of democracy, but I disagree,” Meloni said as she addressed the Italian parliament Wednesday morning.

She was speaking one day after six EU leaders from centrist parties announced that Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, Portugal’s António Costa, and Estonia’s Kaja Kallas should get the most senior positions at the European Commission, European Council and foreign policy service, respectively.

The same names were floated ahead of June’s European election. Von der Leyen’s center-right European People’s Party came out as the big winner of that election, but the European Parliament also shifted more to the right, with Meloni’s European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group gaining seats.

Meloni wants that shift reflected in European decision-making. On Wednesday, she said the leaders of the EU seem tempted to “sweep the dust under the carpet” rather than recognize that many voters are dissatisfied with the EU.

She called the EU “an invasive bureaucratic giant” and asked that Italy get a European Commissioner role that would tackle bureaucracy.

In her comments Wednesday, a day before national leaders meet in Brussels, Meloni said it was “surreal” that names for top EU positions were presented “without even pretending to discuss the signals from voters.”

Meloni has pointed out that her group is currently the third biggest in the 720-seat European Parliament, inching ahead of the liberals.

In the next European Commission, Meloni has her eyes on a top economic portfolio for Rome, along with an executive vice-president or vice-president title for ECR. 

Technically, von der Leyen doesn’t need the support of all EU leaders to be picked for another term. She can sail through with the backing of a majority of them and without the support of the Italian prime minister. 

One EU diplomat said, “There is no problem if we have to do this deal without Meloni.”

But politically, this is sensitive. Meloni is not only the leader of the bloc’s third-largest economy but is also one of the few European leaders who came out of the European election strengthened. 

EU leaders are meeting on Thursday and Friday in Brussels and hope to seal the top job package, so that the European Parliament can vote on a second term for von der Leyen in mid-July.

In an implicit attack on France’s Emmanuel Macron, who suffered a heavy defeat at the EU election, Meloni said she will “always fight against” those who push for “an oligarchic and technocratic vision of politics and society” because they try to “clearly keep power even from positions of weakness.”

“The point is not to exclude anyone. The point is that there is a political reality emerging from the European elections, which is the confirmation of the coalition between the EPP, S&D and Renew, a coalition to which ECR does not belong,” an Elysée official, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly, said on Tuesday.



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