Friday, June 28, 2024

EX-prime minister Costa now a European president in Brussels


Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has been formally appointed to take on the second highest job in the European Union, that of President of the European Council. Ursula Von der Leyen has been reinstated for a second term as President of the European Commission.


The nominations were approved at a special summit on Thursday by the chancellor of Germany, the president of France and the prime ministers of Greece, Poland the Netherlands and Spain.


The outcome had been widely predicted, though Costa’s forced resignation as prime minister last December raised eyebrows.


A lesser-known politician, Estonia’s Kaja Kallas , is to lead the bloc’s foreign policy service. These three key officials are expected to serve for the next five years.


The main critic since the first hint of confirmation on Tuesday has been Hungary’s Viktor Orban who believes the results have been hatched by the European People’s Party, with leftists and liberals. This runs counter to everything the EU was based on, says Orban. He insists that the top officials should represent every member state including his own, which is led by right-wing nationalists.



The main challenges facing the top three leaders and their advisers are expected to be political turmoil at home, and the prospect of a highly divisive President Donald Trump abroad.


Von der Leyen is a German conservative Her second term in the number one position places her in charge of the bloc’s executive branch. Costa, until recently leader of Portugal’s Socialist Party, will now be at the helm of the authority which includes the heads of government of the EU’s 27 member states. The two top leaders are generally seen as an appropriate balance in terms of their political and geographical backgrounds.


A significant contribution to Costa’s success in his bid for the Brussels job was the unequivocal backing he received from Portugal’s Prime Minister Luis Montenegro, despite the fact that Montenegro heads the centre-right coalition that has long rivalled the centre-left Socialists in Portugal’s national elections.


Costa made many key allies when he attended an EU summit in Brussels in January. Yet just a month earlier he stepped down as Portugal’s leader when investigations got underway into alleged irregularities in his government’s handling of several large investment projects. Costa denied any wrong-doing and was never charged.  However, several of his close associates remain under investigation


Costa, 62, is believed to have all the right credentials for Brussels, including that of a moderate profile combing socialist democratic values with an orthodox approach to the economy. It is also seen as a “pragmatic negotiator.” His career so far has included working as a lawyer, mayor of Lisbon, and prime minister from 2015 to 2023.

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