Rumors around European institutions, high-level seats of power, gossip for low average audience rating at global level but stellar audience locally – as per classic music on Italian Rai3 in the late evening. But…when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Tough times now…
The audience is not impatient for the appointment of the Secretary-General of the European Commission: an understandable approach, even though we should bear in mind that it is the most important tenure of the entire European Union. Anyone getting that place, anyone controlling that office, gets a remarkable influence in determining the choices of the Commission, which is at the same time the legislative office of the European Union and the guarantor of the respect of the rules Member States apply themselves.
Catherine Day, born in 1954, has been Secretary-General for ten years now: an Irish “iron lady” who does not mince words. Nominated by the President Barroso, she served as his Grand Commis for two terms at the Berlaymont. Rumours now say Ms Day could be ready to give way to someone else, and some ‘eligible’ name is being said behind the scenes.
The changing of the guard should be made in the spring. It should.
Actually, the last rumour making the rounds says that Jean Claude Juncker, current number one of the Commission, is considering the option of confirming Ms. Day for two more years. After a complex roll-out, the relationship between the Irish official and the staff of the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg are seen as effective. Therefore, Juncker is said to be wiling to use the experience gained by the current Secretary-General for ensuring the stability of the first part of his five years. After all, Ms. Day is appreciated by both the EPP and the Germans. A guarantee, then.
The idea should be to have her replaced with the current Director of the Legal Service, the other unit (in addition to the General Secretariat) at direct dependency of the European Commission President. We are talking about the Spanish Luis Romero-Requena, still in the EPP quota, trusted by the institutions – the one in the room when Barroso fired the Maltese Commissioner Dalli for the tobacco issue – who since then has been defending the Commission in a very insidious context. Still, be cautious: the high-level officer is well-accepted by Berlin.
Was the plan to be executed, the German victory could be fulfilled by the promotion of Johannes Laitenberger – former spokesperson of the European Commission and already Chief of the Barroso Cabinet, another figure likeable for the Federal Chancellery – from Vice to Chief of the Legal Service. A plan which could lead the pro-German and Chistian-Democratic team up to having an almost total control of the nervous system of the European Commission. Something bloodcurdling for any ‘Mediterranean’ listening to it.
True or false?
Last Friday, a high-profile diplomat said he was totally unaware of this story. “I heard Catherine Day before Christmas, and it seemed to me she was going to leave her office.”
True or false?
Is it going to be like this? Maybe. Or maybe not.