Prime minister hopes for EU appointment stalemate resolution on Tuesday

Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), during Sunday's marathon EU leaders' summit in Brussels.
Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), during Sunday's marathon EU leaders' summit in Brussels. Source: EPA/Scanpix

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said Monday that he hoped an impasse on European Union member states' appointment to key roles in the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission, could be resolved soon.

An EU extraordinary summit in Brussels on Tuesday has so far failed to reach a deal on the matter, after 16 hours of discussions on Sunday, running through to Monday morning.

"While this definitely is a complex challenge for the member states, I believe that it is possible for us to find the right people together," Ratas said, according to BNS.

"For Estonia, it is important to take into account geographic balance ‒ both the larger and the smaller member states must be represented ‒ and it is also important to keep gender representation in mind," he continued, according to government spokespersons.

Ratas also expressed his hopes that the issues would be resolved on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of new leaders being both competent and ready to address key issues and challenges standing before the EU, and which affect all member states. 

"I also consider it essential for one of the persons ending up in high office to be very familiar with our region," he continued.

EU heads of state and heads of government elect the president of the Council of the EU, also nominating the candidate for the president of the European Commission. In the first case, a country is selected, currently Romania, a role held by Estonia in the second half of 2017. In the case of the commission, a replacement for Jean-Claude Juncker is being sought.

Member States also appoint the high representative of the EU on foreign affairs and security policy, and make a decision concerning the president of the European Central Bank, according to BNS.

All the new roles are scheduled to be filled before year end.

EU leaders broke off their talks Monday amid deep divisions over who should occupy top European jobs for at least the next five years. After a full night of one-on-one meetings, trilateral talks, and group discussions, including sitting down over breakfast, European Council President Donald Tusk called a halt, and said the summit should reconvene at 11:00 local time on Tuesday.

Citing one prominent appointment, Ratas told ERR's online news in Estonian that a major sticking point revolved around Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands, formally nominated in February as the Party of European Socialists (PES) Common Candidate to replace Juncker. Ratas said that the Visegrád group of nations in particular (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) would not be amenable to Timmermans' ascending to the post.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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