The new Europe has certainly not been born under the best auspices. You can forget about politicians capable of managing a split, forget about European spirit, forget about an understanding of the new wind that blows over the states of the European Union. This new Europe, born of the negotiating table of the European Council, of the Franco-German axis and of the secret machinations of the political parties, is an institution that is already born lame. Moreover, it already symbolizes the decline of an institution that seems completely to have lost perception of how much Europe is changing.
The four latest names brought forward by the European Council and the leaders of the Union only serve to confirm the slow death of Europe. The future president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is widely considered to be the worst (or at least the weakest) minister in Angela Merkel‘s government. It is true that she is her heir apparent, but this in itself is not necessarily a source of pride. Firstly, the fact that the Commission President is a faithful follower of the leader of one of the member countries condemns her to be a weak leader herself, and absolutely not impartial. Then, considering that Berlin’s armed forces declined to one of the lowest levels in recent history during her leadership of the German Defence Ministry, it is quite clear that Brussels is not entering a time in which it can rest easily. Forget about a strong leader for the post-Juncker period: Europe’s leadership has been given to a woman who has proven to have the right profile, but also a series of skeletons in the closet that represent a handicap of no small importance.
Another name, another problem: Charles Michel, President of the European Council. The outgoing Belgian prime minister, who will inherit the post of the Pole Donald Tusk, can hardly be called a charismatic or strong leader. Indeed, what appears clear is that Michel leaves a country in disarray, widely considered to be the soft underbelly of the European Union. It is riven by the winds of separatism and by ever weaker government, and with a domestic security problem that has run out of control, with attacks repeatedly hitting Belgium, starting with the capital, Brussels. Belgium will now be the country that supplies the President of European Council, one of the fundamental organs of this Union, which brings together all the EU heads of state and government. In short, the premier of a country with a clear identity crisis, close to internal collapse, will represent the EU to the world and will try to define the policies of Brussels. A situation that, if it were not critical for us European citizens, would be comical to say the least.
The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Josep Borrell, is no better. Although he has an institutional profile of a certain weight, certainly greater than that of the Italian incumbent Federica Mogherini, Borrell is another example of this European Union governed by “failures”. Firstly the Spanish Foreign Minister comes from a non-winning party (the European Socialist Party), but above all comes from a government, that of Pedro Sanchez, which still risks not having a parliamentary majority. So much so that the Spanish Prime Minister, considered the rising star of the European Left with his PSOE party, is taking some time to try to arrive at his investiture on 23rd July with a majority that at least allows him to achieve the passing of the first parliamentary step. If you add to this situation the total inertia of Spain of in recent years, with a flood of elections, non-existent majorities and Catalonia pushing for secession, in reality the representative of EU foreign policy will be a very much weakened man.
Then comes the Italian: David Sassoli leading the European Parliament. The selection of Sassoli should be of great relief to Italy, who comes out of this merry-go-round of appointments having lost the presidency of the European Central Bank and the High Representative, and with the consolation of having maintained the presidency of the European Parliament after the end of the mandate of Antonio Tajani. However, even here, the presidency of the European Parliament has a significant handicap from the start. Sassoli is not a member of the Italian government, he does not represent a majority party, and, most importantly, he is outside the field of thinking that is changing Europe. The Democratic Party claimed victory with his selection, as did the European Socialist Party, but we are talking about a representative of two parties that were defeated at the European elections, both at national and European level. Yet it will indeed be a member of a defeated party to lead in Strasbourg.
Finally, Christine Lagarde, the new head of the European Central Bank. The managing director of the International Monetary Fund is one of the personalities considered most negatively by the parties that rebel against the status quo in Europe and elsewhere. Lagarde herself even made a public apology for how the IMF behaved at the time of the Greek crisis. However, we must not forget that she is French, and a woman linked to former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who destroyed Libya during his time in power, brought scandal upon the Élysée. Lagarde wrote him a letter to say: “Use me for as long as it suits you and suits your plans and casting call,” and then continued, “If you decide to use me, I need you as a guide and a supporter: without a guide I may be ineffective and without your support I may lack credibility.” If this is the new Europe…
Translation by Laura Flower