The ‘new face’ of the EU? Ursula von der Leyen
As the BoJo-Hunt circus trundles on, with the wannabe May replacements making more and more promises and with Tory grandees littering the pages of the MSM with articles of the “Why I will vote for BoJo-Hunt [delete the appropriate candidate’s name according to your wishes] variety, we witnessed a spectacular, real scandal in Brussels.
I don’t mean the fact that our and the continental MSM declared it an outrage that the Brexit Party MEPs turned their backs when “Ode of Joy” was played at the start of the inaugural session of the new EU Parliament. That the British LibDem MEPs turned up wearing yellow T-shirts with “Bollocks to Brexit” on the back was of little interest. After all, what is the diffamation of 17.4 million voters on the international stage between friends! It seems though that using ‘bollocks’ is now permitted in polite society as it was allowed in the hallowed EU Parliament Chamber.
Here’s why TBP did what they did:
“Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s PM, […]Mr Farage said: “Everybody stood up but we sat there. At which point, Mr Tajani [outgoing president of the EUParl] implored us to do the same. He said look you should stand up for an anthem even if it is a foreign country. So he was admitting that the EU as far as he is concerned is a country. We obeyed his order and stood and we decided to turn our backs.” (link)
The EU heads don’t even hide any longer that they regard the EU as ‘country’!
No, the real scandal took place behind firmly closed doors at the final meeting of the EU Council – that’s the leaders of the 28 (soon to be 27) EU member states, who had to come up with a solution for the replacement of M Jean-Claude Juncker first and foremost, and for the head of the ECB, Signor Draghi, and others.
You recall that those leaders had been in fierce horse-trading talks since Sunday evening, continuing for the whole of Monday and taking up all of yesterday. Security was so tight that even now our trusted Brussels correspondents have only managed to come up with some bare bones. One rumour did creep out yesterday, and that was in regard to the Juncker successor – which had Germans in an uproar.
Here are the names and photos of the incoming EU Leaders and here’s another non-paywalled report. RemainCentral crowed “Europe is a woman” in their (paywalled) headline, again overlooking the fact that the EU is not = Europe.
Before I wade into the gory personal details, I want to remind you that the original idea was to have a ‘spitzencandidate’ replacing Juncker, as a sign of ‘being democratic’. This was suddenly not acceptable to M Macron because that spitzencandidate, a German non-entity, Mr Weber, supported by Ms Merkel, was not acceptable to M Macron.
The next one was Mr Timmermans who was unacceptable to the Visegrad countries. Furthermore, according to the rules of EU haggling, a German candidate has to be balanced by a French one. Candidates from the ‘small’ countries can go through without need for ‘balance’.
Ms Merkel was outmanouevered in that EU Council meeting. She had abandoned her spitzencandidate in the hope of getting her preferred candidate to replace Signor Draghi. It was not to be … Instead, it was Mr Tusk who managed this nomination and managed Merkel and Macron:
“Emmanuel Macron was persuaded to swing behind Mrs von der Leyen in return for Mrs Lagarde, the French head of the International Monetary Fund, taking the presidency of the European Central Bank. Donald Tusk, the outgoing president of the European Council, had said the allocation of the EU top jobs had to reflect gender diversity. […] He added that the nominations would make little difference to the impasse over Brexit.” (paywalled link).
Of course it makes no difference – one of the most powerful Anti-Brexit negotiators still has his job in Brussels, Mr Selmayer. We don’t know yet if M Barnier will be allowed to continue. Another appointment is worrying for Brexiteers:
“Josep Borrell, Spain’s abrasive Socialist foreign minister and former European Parliament president is to become head of the EU’s diplomatic service and a vice-president of the commission. British diplomats will note that Mr Borrell has vowed to secure Spanish sovereignty over Gibraltar and won a recent battle to get the British overseas territory described as a “colony” in EU legal documents.” (link, paywalled)
Thanks to the horsetrading, the EU has now ended up with Madame Christine Lagarde, director of the IMF, as incoming ECB Director. Madame Lagarde was previously found guilty of criminal negligence but the French courts decided this did not constitute a ‘criminal record’ (here). Well, probity is not a requirement for a top post in the EU …
Just as probity is not a requirement for EU top jobs neither is competence. Here, Ms Ursula von der Leyen shines! Obviously, the incompetence of the German defence minister did not interest our national MSM, but even the mild sentences in the reports today must make us Leavers sit up. See e.g.e this:
“A close ally of Angela Merkel and supporter of a “Euro army” will be the next president of the European Commission.” (link, paywalled)
A more lengthy ‘introduction’ to the next EU Leader is this one:
“Mrs von der Leyen, 60, has described Brexit “a burst bubble of hollow promises by populists”, which would suggest her appointment would bring no change in Brussels’ Brexit stance. “My goal is the United States of Europe, based on the model of the federal states of Switzerland, Germany or the US,” she said in 2011. In February, Mrs von der Leyen, who was born in Brussels while her father was a senior EU civil servant, said the EU needed to pool defence research funding because of “Brexit and the distanced attitude of the US president. This leads to the idea of a ‘Euro army’. This would be challenging but necessary. Europe must be able to act independently where it needs to,” she said in November last year. She warned that Brexit would diminish Britain’s influence in the UN Security Council. “Britain would no longer lift hands for 500 million Europeans in the Security Council, but only for 64 million Britons,” she said in 2016 before the referendum.” (paywalled link)
If you thought that surely the Germans would be cock-a-hoop about this nomination, you’d be wrong. One reporter writes that this is good news – for the Bundeswehr, which Ms vdL (von der Leyen) has ‘managed’ into a scandalous shadow of itself. She is also being investigated by the Bundestag for inappropriate use of funds, paying for external consultants from e.g. McKinsey. If you have access to a machine translator, do read the whole article!
Another German reporter is amazed that the EU Council voted near-unanimously for her, with Ms Merkel abstaining as her coalition partner was against that nomination, noting that this politician was ranked reliably as one of the least satisfactory ministers. Well, the EU has made their bed, now they must lie in it. Or must they? See this:
“The appointments could still be derailed by the European Parliament, which is angry that EU leaders have jettisoned the Spitzenkandidat system, which ties the commission presidency to the results of the European elections. EU leaders have moved to reassert their sole right to anoint the commission boss and ditch the democratic experiment.” (paywalled link)
That’s the “EU Democracy” which the remainers so love! The EU Parliament is now expected to vote on this slate of candidates. The guaranteed majority of the former ‘big blocks’ of ‘conservatives’, ‘socialists’, ‘liberals’, and the smaller ones of ‘greens’ and those horrible ‘extreme right wing populists’ has changed, so I don’t think it will be plain sailing.
Expect more arm-twisting en coulisse. Expect repeat voting, until the result is ‘right’. And expect interventions from the ‘bad boys’ relegated to the seats right at the back, the Brexit party MEPs. It will be interesting to watch how the EU Parliament is going to manage the impression of being ever so ‘democratic’ while shunning TBP.
We can surely look forward to some interesting videos as long as we are still ‘IN’, with further proof that the EU is not democratic, providing the Brexit Party with yet more ammunition. Interesting times ahead!