On Tuesday, new Members of the European Parliament (MEP) took their seats for the first time since a dramatic series of elections in May, shaking the status quo.
Europhiles described the protest as disrespectful. "What is not respectful is to take the states of the old nations in Europe and turn them into a country without asking anyone to turn them into a country," said Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party.
You might think that the opinions of a political party named after a movement should leave the European Union out of the way for EU officials. But Farage's faction is the largest single party in the European Parliament. And it is not just Eurosceptics who are making life difficult for the proponents of the European project at the moment.
After three days of horse trading, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen's turn was this post. Her nomination – out of the blue – is a near-perfect example of the problems faced by populism and general mistrust of the establishment.
This is how the process works. The President of the Commission is determined in two stages. Firstly, the heads of state and government of the 28 EU Member States must agree on a name. This person must then be approved by a simple majority of the 751 Members of the European Parliament.
Usually this process is a formality. But the EU elections in May were a clear indication of mixed sentiment across the continent in 2019. Establishment parties lost their seats to eurosceptic parties such as the Brexit party and the far-right party of Italy, as well as reform parties for the EU and German Greens and the En-Marche movement of the French President Macron.
This has massively endangered the EU An old coalition between the center-right and the center-left group to achieve what they want in Brussels and to freeze all others "candidates who have little luggage.
But there is a fine line between a compromise where all parties accept that they do not get exactly what they want and a situation that everyone hates.
Here we come back to the Leyen nomination The majority of the center-left parliamentary group is furious that their first election, the Dutch Labor politician Franz Timmermans, was pushed aside so quickly by the 28 EU leaders, and he was not the only qualified candidate to be scrapped: The candidacy of the former favorite, the German Manfred Weber, also fell apart: Eastern European nations such as Hungary could not bear to stand up to the nationalist leaders who defied them Countries usually conduct.
Leyen is considered a charitable non-profit organization. Less charitable, they could be described as a very small fish on the European stage. It has a sketchy record, as the German Minister of Defense and critics say, she has no real history in the field of pan-European politics.
That would, for obvious reasons, please the leaders of strong men in the East. But it also fits in with French President Emmanuel Macron. One of Leyen's only publicly known European measures is the support of a European army that Macron desperately wants to lead. Her perceived weakness in European politics also allows Macron to play a bigger role on the European stage, an opportunity he has been fond of because of his staggering popularity in France.
And by backing up the Leyen nomination, Macron will obviously support the idea of a German in the top job without this being German Weber, whom Macron assumes is harder to get his feet on the job Find.
Of course, this could backfire for Macron and other supporters of Leyen. Some think her perception of her may be weak in misogyny. And German diplomats say that she is an impressive personality and that her record in the post office is not entirely positive, that she is tough and probably will not be pushed around.
That's when she even gets into the job. The center-left Social Democrats (S & D) in the European Parliament are trying to convince parliamentarians that the appointment would be unlawful, as it violates a resolution passed in May stating that only someone has been declared To be interested in the highest position will be the next President of the Commission. Ignore that and what is the purpose of Parliament?
One of the more confusing nominations was that of Spanish President Josep Borrell for the top job in foreign affairs. The idea was that by handing over the top job to a Spaniard, MEPs could be persuaded to approve the package as a whole. But it's a knife-edge, and some observers wonder if, if the deal is really bad, a new list of candidates might be needed – maybe sooner rather than later.
So everything is a bit chaotic. In all likelihood, this will be quickly resolved as European politicians are pragmatic overall. However, this is only the first step. The reality for anyone who accepts these jobs is that the 28 members of the European Union are becoming increasingly polarized. Given the money and power associated with it, it is rarely easy to work for top jobs in European politics. But by and large, this should be the easy piece.
While populists and anti-establishment parties are digging their heels for the next five years, the continent is no longer despised for the European institutions that embody so many things.