No top EU jobs for Eastern Europe

The countries of Eastern Europe have emerged empty-handed from the talks aimed at filling the EU's top posts. During the negotiations the four Visegrád countries blocked the candidacy of Frans Timmermans, who supported Article 7 proceedings against Poland and Hungary. While some commentators criticise the West's dominance, others fault the East's destructive stance.

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Mladina (SI) /

Not ready for responsibility

In view of the way Eastern Europe has been behaving recently it doesn't deserve any of the EU's top jobs, Mladina writes:

“In Slovenia too, people have been saying that showing respect to the new member states would have sent a symbolic message. Respect? Why? The states of Eastern Europe are a huge disappointment. ... Years after the eastward expansion they have shown that they are immature, fascistoid, nationalist, cold-hearted and undemocratic. Do Poland, Hungary, Slovakia or Croatia deserve respect? ... And in 2018 [after the parliamentary elections] Slovenia only narrowly avoided becoming part of this Eastern Europe - thanks to the political maturity of most parties and the clear desire of civil society.”

Népszava (HU) /

Orbán hasn't achieved any constructive results

The Orbán camp shouldn't be too quick to celebrate von der Leyen's nomination, warns Népszava:

“The Visegrád states were overjoyed because they were able to prevent the selection of the social democrat Frans Timmermans. ... Orbán and the other representatives of the Visegrád Group are now mighty proud of themselves. But one has to ask what exactly they're proud of, given that one thing above all is true of these states: while they are very clever at torpedoing EU objectives, they are incapable of advancing their own constructive proposals. This destructive stance has had its result: not a single top EU job went to a politician from Eastern Europe. And if the Orbán government believes that the danger of Brussels tying the payment of EU funds to compliance with the rule of law has been banished, it's in for some nasty surprises.”

Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

Why Grybauskaitė came away empty-handed

In the negotiations over the top EU jobs Lithuania's outgoing president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was also discussed as a candidate. Lietuvos rytas suspects it was her uncompromising stance on Russia that put her out of the running:

“In Europe she is known for her confrontational and egoistic character as well as her contradictory and inappropriately harsh statements. No doubt her attitude towards Russia also played a role. Whether we like it or not: Germany and France, which increasingly define European policies, have begun to change their stance vis-à-vis Russia. And Grybauskaitė once called Russia a terrorist state.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Orbán glowing with pride

The Eastern European states won't be overly put out at not getting top EU posts, De Morgen is sure:

“The Visegrád countries have achieved more than enough: they've torpedoed the European dream of putting the Social Democrat Frans Timmermans at the head of the Commission. Orbán is proud to have the Dutchman's scalp hanging from his belt. Not that they are presenting any alternatives, either. ... For Euro-skeptic heads of state it can actually be an advantage when it comes to taking complex decisions on climate or migration. In the years to come Orbán will take great pleasure in pointing his finger at the 'elites in Brussels' who've lost all contact to average Hungarians.”

Radio Europa Liberă (RO) /

Block Timmermans and nothing else

The Visegrád countries had only one aim, Radio Europa Libera bemoans:

“The fact that the top jobs were only handed to people from old Europe shows yet again that the rebellious Eastern Europeans (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia) had no specific demands. It also shows that their blockade was not aimed at putting their countries, regions or political culture in the balance to win a post for Eastern Europe. All they wanted was to prevent the Dutchman Frans Timmermans from getting the job, after he had criticised their authoritarian tendencies and pushed to strengthen European values. After getting Timmermans out of the race, they are silently accepting all other proposals.”

Denik (CZ) /

Shooting themselves in the foot

The Visegrád states believe they emerged victorious from the tussle over the top posts because they were able to stop Frans Timmermans from becoming EU Commission president. Denik takes a different stance:

“Angela Merkel's party friend Ursula von der Leyen will head the Commission. She has said she wants a United States of Europe. Timmermans will no doubt be her first deputy. The European Council will be led by the Belgian Liberal Charles Michel, while the Italian Socialist David-Maria Sassoli will preside over the European Parliament. All in all this is a brilliant success for the Central Eastern Europeans. The grumblers from the Czech Republic can be happy if their former commissioner Věra Jourová gets the portfolio for neighbourhood policy or fisheries.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Heavy Western bias

The allocation of jobs does not meet even the most minimal demands for a fair representation of interests within the European Union, Der Standard confirms.

“The first thing that stands out is the proposal's heavy geographical bias. With France, Germany, Belgium and Italy we have four founder states sending their people into the five top EU jobs. The most powerful among them have been claimed by Berlin (President of the Commission) and Paris (head of the ECB). Then comes Spain with the High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs. The Eastern Europeans got nothing at all, nor have the Nordic countries. There is a heavy bias towards large EU states over the many smaller ones. How this will mend the oft decried continental divide is a mystery.”