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Yes, but the President does have leverage. She can appoint the new Commissioner to a meaningless portfolio if she doesn't like the choice(s) she's given.

There are now three main candidates - Simon Coveney (the government favourite), Mairead McGuinness and Frances Fitzgerald. Simon Coveney (48) has been an MEP and Deputy Prime Minister, and is currently Foreign Minister. Francis Fitzgerald (70) is a former Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and first time MEP. Mairead McGuinness (61) is first vice President of the European Parliament with a good chance of becoming President next time around. She lacks Ministerial experience but is said to be highly though of by Ursula VD Leyen.

Coveney only wants the job if he is guaranteed a senior portfolio. There is talk of nominating him and Fitzgerald as a decoy runner in the expectation VD Leyen will pick Coveney.

It really is an invidious position to put any senior politician in: Expecting them to accept a place on a short-list not knowing if they will e picked and if, so, to what portfolio. We do not wan a situation where Coveney is nominated and then turns down the job if he doesn't like the portfolio. Hugely damaging to all concerned.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 1st, 2020 at 03:11:49 PM EST
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But she only has leverage versus a member state in this case Ireland. It doesn't work versus the Council as a whole as sticking people with more or less powerful portfolios is a zero-sum game (unless one really goes into the whole shooting oneself in the foot territory). And it is the council that appoints.

So it is a power grab both from the Council and the member state, but mostly from the Council. Presumably with the approval of the Council as they otherwise could slap her down. If we add in the power struggle over the real power of appointing the Commission President between the Council and the Parliament that the Council won in 2019, reserving for itself the real power that the Parliament attempted to seize for itself and the voting public, I think we are looking at an attempt by the Council (or the ruling fraction thereof) to create a more Presidential model, appointed by itself naturally.

Of course, this might seem a bit Kremlinology from a thin foundation, but I am hard pressed to see this apparent change in procedure as anything but a step in changing the power structure.

by fjallstrom on Wed Sep 2nd, 2020 at 12:15:45 PM EST
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And this may also explain the delay in the Irish Government announcing its nomination(s). Apparently Varadkar is holding out until he gets some indication that the successful candidate will get a decent portfolio. The view is that the Irish Government favours Coveney, Brussels favours McGuinness, and they may get Fitzgerald if nothing substantive is on offer -  as McGuinness has a decent chance of being the next President of the Parliament.


MEP Mairead McGuinness, MEP Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney at an event in Wexford in 2019. File photograph: Barbara Lindberg   

MEP Mairead McGuinness, MEP Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney at an event in Wexford in 2019. File photograph: Barbara Lindberg


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Sep 2nd, 2020 at 06:52:32 PM EST
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Clarity on nomination for EU commissioner by `end of week', Fine Gael TDs told
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party that he expects clarity on the nominations for the role of EU commissioner by the end of this week.

Sources present say Mr Varadkar was "at pains to point out that the Commission want a woman and a man, not a man and a woman. He outlined that clearly".



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Sep 2nd, 2020 at 07:03:35 PM EST
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< checks watch >
Gender-balance report ...
by Cat on Thu Sep 3rd, 2020 at 08:34:33 PM EST
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