Meeting on backing von der Leyen for second term as commission president breaks up without agreement

Government will put forward candidate for EU commissioner role in ‘next few weeks’

A formal decision to nominate the next commission president will likely be made at a meeting of EU leaders next week. Photograph: Nick Gammon/AFP via Getty Images

Negotiations among EU leaders around whether to back Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as European Commission president ended without agreement, after several hours of talks on Monday night.

However, it is understood a plan to nominate Ms von der Leyen for another five years in the powerful role of commission president is still on course to be approved at another summit of leaders late next week.

Charles Michel, current president of the European Council, said the meeting of the national leaders of the 27 EU countries in Brussels on Monday had not been expected to make a formal decision.

Speaking after midnight, Mr Michel said the national leaders had a “good discussion” over dinner on Monday evening. “It goes in the right direction I think but there’s no agreement tonight at this stage,” he told reporters.


Mr Michel said he fully expected a decision would be taken on who the leaders would pick for the commission presidency at the summit starting next Thursday. “I think it is our collective duty to make a decision by the end of June,” he said.  Talks on Monday evening saw an “in-depth exchange of views” between leaders, he said. “The purpose today, tonight was not to make a decision … It will be clarified next week,” he said.

It is understood the leaders discussed the broad outlines of a plan to nominate Ms von der Leyen for a second term as commission president, which is expected to be formally signed off next week, barring any late developments in the meantime.

Under the plan the current Estonia prime minister Kaja Kallas would become the next EU’s foreign affairs chief, and the former prime minister of Portugal Antonio Costa would take over as the next president of the European Council.

Leaders were due to discuss the allocation of several senior EU roles over dinner, which started at about 8pm. The top EU jobs are traditionally divvied up between politicians from the main political groupings, which are the European People’s Party (EPP), the centre left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and centrists Renew.

Negotiators representing the main groupings had been involved in discussions for a number of hours before the leaders sat down to talk over dinner on Monday, while other national leaders held talks in smaller huddles.

In a post after the meeting ended on X, formerly Twitter, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban said the EPP had “teamed up” with the liberal and centre left groupings, to divide “the top jobs of the EU among themselves”.

“We will unite the forces of the European right and fight against pro-migration and pro-war bureaucrats,” he said.

Speaking earlier on his way into the summit, Taoiseach Simon Harris said there was an consensus emerging to support Ms von der Leyen for another term as commission president.

Ms von der Leyen is expected to secure the support of national leaders, following which her nomination for a second term would need to be approved by a majority of MEPs in a European Parliament vote. The Irish Government is expected to support her, though several Irish MEPs, including all the Fianna Fáil MEPs, have said they will not vote for her. There is an “emerging consensus” among EU leaders to back Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as European Commission president, T Mr Harris has said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times