Dutch socialist politician Frans Timmermans is on course to be named as the next President of the European Commission tonight, diplomats and officials claimed. The anti-Brexit politician is believed to have been chosen after talks between Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron during this weekend’s G20 in Japan, according to two diplomats and one European Parliament adviser. One diplomat involved in the talks told Reuters: “It looks to be Timmermans for the European Commission President.”
This view has been backed by a second envoy when asked about the process of selection for five top posts for a new five-year mandate.
Mr Timmermans would represent a compromise between Germany and France after the former pushed to give the presidency of the Commission to German centre-right EU MEP Manfred Weber and Paris rejected this scenario.
But this decision is set to spark outrage across eastern Europe, where Mr Timmermans is known for his role in the bloc’s rule of law probes against Hungary and Poland’s nationalist Governments.
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In April, the Dutch accused the Polish leadership of undermining the independence of judges “by not offering necessary guarantees to protect them from political control”.
Like Hungary, Poland is trying to carry out a reform to the judiciary for years and has been accused by Brussels of undermining the independence of judges.
If France and Germany were to put forward Mr Timmermans’s name at tonight working dinner among EU leaders, eastern European countries would likely revolt against Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron and the Western nations supporting their choice.
Zoltan Kovacs, Hungary’s Secretary of State for International Communication and Relations, wrote on Twitter: “Attempting to place @TimmermansEU in the position of Commission president, @georgesoros wants to put his own man in the key position, thereby directing pro-immigration policies, financial and economic policies in the EU, according to his own interests.
“This is completely unacceptable! The Hungarian government will do everything possible to prevent it.”
Mr Timmermans, who is currently a senior European Commission official, has been a Dutch foreign minister and is the leading member of the Socialist and Democrats political bloc in the European Parliament, is also known in the UK for being an anti-Brexit anglophile.
A fierce supporter of a second Brexit referendum, Mr Timmermans has repeatedly suggested the British public may want to “rethink” the decision taken three years ago during the EU Referendum and has launched attacks against both Tory leadership candidate Boris Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.
Mr Juncker’s seat is not the only top EU job up for grabs, as there are also the presidencies of the EU’s Executive Commission, the Parliament, the European Council, the EU’s foreign policy chief and the head of the European Central Bank (ECB).
Mr Macron said three of these seats should be filled today.
Upon arriving to the summit’s venue, the French President told reporters: “It’s important for me that we are able to emerge from this Council with answers and the new team.
“This is the new team that we are going to decide on, for three of the names today, for the ECB probably a little later.”
The Council of EU leaders is responsible for nominating four key positions – including the president of the European Commission and the president of the ECB – and Macron said “there should be two men and two women”.