It’s all about women. And Russia. These appear to be the two crucial elements affecting the choice among the four most-credited candidates for the ‘top jobs’ of the Union, the highest posts which will be allocated Saturday night by Heads of State or Government.
Two S&D women: Federica Mogherini, running for the post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Commission Vice President, and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Danish PM who could become the President of the next European Council. Two men, two Polish conservatives: the PM Donald Tusk, running against the Danish PM, and his Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, Mogherini’s competitor. Then, other prestigious names coming from the Netherlands and from Finland – still, the current reasoning is about a possible mix of two of the four candidates above. The possible couples are: Tusk – Mogherini and Thorning-Schmidt – Sikorski. The Danish/Polish couple would mean a victory for European Socialists, which would take the second most important position in Brussels after the Commission Presidency, given to the EPP representative from Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker. Still, this would be the most surprising outcome, given that the S&D, notwithstanding the good electoral result in May, haven’t called for that position. Moreover, the solution would place a strongly anti-Russian personality as leader of the European diplomacy – and this would be a choice to take with utmost care, given its remarkable political value. Actually, the other solution wouldn’t be much different, when seen looking at Moscow. Tusk is head of the government which made more pressure of any other to sanction Russia after Ukraine, hence he’s not exactly loved by Moscow, but his presence would be smoothed by Mogherini, seen as more “soft” towards Vladimir Putin’s positions.
At least one of the two positions should be given to a woman, and at the same time there are remarkable pressures – notably from London – to have the European Council President from an extra-euroarea nation. Then, one of the two positions should be given to a “New Europe” State – the Eastern group of nations, the latest to join the Union, which haven’t been allocated any “top job” post so far.
European Leaders are used to last-minute changes of mind, then even though at the moment the Tusk-Mogherini couple appears to lead the way, everything will be decided on Saturday only.
The following weeks will be crucial too, with the indications of new Commissioners and relevant portfolios, with a real crowd running around the economic posts. A lot will be affected by the winners and the losers of the challenge in Saturday, and by how much the support to Mogherini instead of Sikorski could cost to the country in terms of the importance of the Commissioner obtained.