Centrist bloc says Giorgia Meloni to decide on Ursula von der Leyen’s term

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Giorgia Meloni is an integral part of the deal giving Ursula von der Leyen a second term as President of the European Commission, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, as centrist leaders seek to appeased the Italian prime minister after excluding her from previous negotiations.

Meloni said the deal to reappoint von der Leyen and shortlist candidates for the other two top positions was orchestrated by three centrist parties without the involvement of her or her far-right group is a deal “mistake” of disrespect Importance of Italy.

“The decision belongs to Ms Meloni and the other leaders . . . There is no Europe without Italy and no decision without Prime Minister Meloni, that is obvious,” Tusk, one of six male leaders who negotiated the jobs deal last week, said on Thursday.

The jobs package, which also envisages former Portuguese prime minister António Costa as president of the European Council and Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas as the bloc’s chief diplomat, is being discussed by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels.

It only needs support from 20 of the 27 leaders to pass, but some EU officials are worried about von der Leyen being able to secure a second term without clear Italian supportthe EU’s third largest economy and one of its six founding members.

Two senior EU diplomats told the Financial Times that other leaders should use the summit discussions to make peace with Meloni and respect her influence, in order to persuade her to join the deal.

One of them said: “Meloni was treated poorly and there are certainly other ways to solve this problem.

The three parties involved in the talks – von der Leyen’s centre-right European People’s Party, Costa’s Socialist & Democratic Party and Kallas’s liberal Innovate group – came first, second and fourth in European parliamentary elections this month.

If all of its members vote in favor, the three parties will have a majority that guarantees von der Leyen the 361 seats she needs to win confirmation in the 720-member council.

But given the possibility of defections in the secret ballot, von der Leyen may also need some votes from Meloni’s European Conservatives and Reformists group, which came third in the election.

Several MEPs in the ERC and Renew have said they will not support a second five-year term for von der Leyen, some blaming her stance on Israel, parliamentary officials said.

“Member states must be wise to put forward a proposal that can win a majority in parliament,” German Chancellor Scholz said as he arrived for the leaders’ summit.

Scholz, who is also one of six negotiators, on behalf of the Socialist Party, added that the jobs package “takes into account that such a majority can also be found”.

Tusk told reporters before the summit that Meloni’s anger was “a misunderstanding” and that the choice of negotiators was “only to facilitate the process”.

“No one respects Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Italy more than me,” Tusk added.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, a Liberal, admitted that “anyone” could vote against the proposed deal on top EU jobs. “But the question is always what best serves European interests.”

“It is important that Italy and especially the Italian Prime Minister are involved in these negotiations,” said Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

Additional reporting by Javier Espinoza and Paola Tamma in Brussels


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