European Union officials said Monday that leaders pulled an all-nighter at a summit but failed to agree on the list of candidates for the bloc’s key posts, with the marathon talks entering a second day. The leaders trickled in for bilateral contacts through Sunday before officially convening at around 8 p.m. They have been locked in talks ever since amid deep divisions over how to best balance political, geographic and gender considerations among the 28 member nations. With the selection process bogged down for the second EU summit meeting in a row, the leaders were still considering Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans to replace Christian Democrat Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the EU’s powerful executive arm, the European Commission. “Let’s see,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, said of Timmermans’ chances when briefly descending from the meeting room in EU headquarters around breakfast time. The Timmermans option deeply divided the European People’s Party-Christian Democrat group as it would surrender the key post to the rival Socialists & Democrats bloc despite EPP remaining the biggest group in the EU following last month’s election. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, an EPP stalwart, posted a video on his verified Facebook account of a discussion with Timmermans in which Borissov said the Dutchman should get the Commission job while the less coveted parliament presidency should go to EPP candidate Manfred Weber. But Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar insisted that the “vast majority of the EPP prime ministers don’t believe we should give up the presidency of
The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, gave a boost on Friday to Croatia’s hopes of joining the EU’s “open-border” Schengen zone and also the waiting room for adopting the euro currency. Croatia joined the EU in 2013 but to join the passport-free Schengen area it must convince Brussels that it is able to effectively manage the bloc’s external border, a particularly sensitive issue since Europe’s 2015 migrant crisis. “I would like the European Commission to give a recommendation before the end of our term in office for Croatia’s Schengen zone accession,” Juncker told reporters after talks with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. The current Commission’s mandate expires in October. Once it gives a recommendation, European Union member states usually approve it, meaning that Croatia could join the Schengen area as early as next year. Plenkovic said he expected the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to confirm in the autumn that Croatia meets all the technical criteria for joining Schengen. Schengen membership brings closer political and economic integration with the rest of the EU, removing delays to the movement of people and goods. The Schengen zone comprises 22 of the EU’s 28 member states as well as four non-EU members – Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. As well as Croatia, the other EU members not in Schengen are Britain, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. Juncker also said on Friday the Commission would support Croatia’s bid to join the European Exchange Mechanism (ERM-2), a two-year waiting room for euro membership,
The European Union will not renegotiate the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May agreed, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday, as concerns grew that a successor to May could trigger a confrontation with the bloc. Brexit is up in the air after Theresa May announced plans to step down, triggering a leadership contest in the ruling Conservative Party that could bring a new prime minister to power who wants a much more decisive break with the EU. One of the candidates, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said it would be “political suicide” to pursue a no-deal Brexit, a reprimand to frontrunner Boris Johnson who said last week that Britain should leave with or without a deal by the end of October. Hunt, who voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum but now accepts Brexit, said he would try for a new agreement that would take Britain out of the EU customs union while “respecting legitimate concerns” around the Irish border. The EU, though, said there would be no renegotiation. “I will have a short meeting with Theresa May, but I was crystal clear: There will be no renegotiation,” Jean-Claude Juncker said before a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he believed the risk of Britain crashing out of the bloc without any divorce agreement was growing. “Well I think there is a growing risk of a no deal. There’s a possibility that the new British prime minister may try to
Jean-Claude Juncker: “The second mistake I made was to listen too carefully to the British government. Cameron. Because the then prime minister asked me not to interfere, not to intervene in the referendum campaign. It was a mistake not to intervene and not to interfere because we would have been the only ones to destroy the lies which were circulated around. I was wrong to be silent at an important moment.”
British planes could be stopped from landing in the EU if Brexit talks fail, according to Jean-Claude Juncker. The European Commission president said at a public meeting in Freiburg: “Sometimes I have the impression that the British think that it’s us quitting Great Britain, but it’s exactly the other way around.”
European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who has been liaising with the Swiss foreign minister, told the Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper that time was running out to clinch an accord that Brussels has been seeking for a decade.
“In the interest of both sides we have to get results soon. Negotiations cannot become a never-ending story,” Hahn said. “I expect that by the end of October at the latest we see clearly whether we can put something together or not.”