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Room for manoeuvre: Kövesi and Romania’s German connection

Ursula von der Leyen meets Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Bucharest (2015) |

By Ioan Bucuraș

Never before have the Union’s heads of state and government spent so much time negotiating the top jobs. Spitzenkandidaten process down the drain or not, the fact that these positions are being treated with such importance by EU member states clearly shows that Brussels matters more than ever. People are quick to react and forget how dismissive most leaders were about these jobs not so long ago.

The German bruxelloise Von der Leyen has been proposed by the European Council as the new (and first ever) Europa regina after a castling move by chancellor Merkel. She dropped the pawn in favour of the queen. Germany gave up European Central Bank ambitions, with the French IMF boss lady, Christine Lagarde, being proposed as the President of the aforementioned monetary powerhouse.

What about Romania?

Well, apart from PM Dancila nominating former Romanian MEP Pascu to replace former Commissioner Cretu, not much was heard of. No important portfolio has been mentioned, no names have been really rumoured. It’s as if everyone’s too tired to battle after the rotating EU presidency.

Remember LCK, Laura Codruta Kövesi, and the whole controversy surrounding her nomination, with the Romanian Social Democrats violently contesting her? She was selected as the European Parliament’s top candidate to head the newly formed European Public Prosecutor’s Office. This proposal was however opposed by the Council, where the French candidate, Jean-Francois Bohnert, was preferred.

Now that the French secured the ECB and that the whole momentum around not respecting the Spitzenkandidaten process puts pressure on the Council, whilst not having anyone from the East in any top job raises LCK’s chances considerably. Both Romanian centre-right and liberal parties announced that they will actively support her nomination in the EP, so it seems that the stars have finally aligned for Kövesi.  

The German connection

Von der Leyen is no stranger to Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic Transylvanian German. She was received in Bucharest with state honours back in 2015, accompanied by a few German army generals. The entire discussion that took place in the Romanian Presidential Palace Cotroceni was held in German, with Romanian interpreters translating live for the Romanian officials sitting next to president Iohannis at the negotiating table.

With both politicians also being members of the EPP, this connection might play out favourably for Romania. But first let’s see if Von der Leyen gets the Parliament’s vote first. And then, if Iohannis wins a second term.  

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