Europe

EU Officials Rally Behind Ex-Italian PM to Succeed European Council President

 / Go to the mediabankItalian Prime Minister Mario Dragh / Go to the mediabank

Chimauchem Nwosu The race for one of the EU’s top jobs is on as the 27 member states must find a successor by mid-July 2024. Central and eastern European nations have voiced discontent about the dominance of their western counterparts in securing these positions.European Council President Charles Michel’s early resignation announcement has prompted speculation about potential successors — including former Italian prime minister Mario Draghi.Draghi’s tenure from 1991 to 2001 as director general of the Italian treasury was characterized by significant financial reforms.He led efforts to reduce Italy’s public debt, balance annual budgets, and stabilize both interest and currency exchange rates, paving the way for Italy’s integration into the European Monetary Union in 1999. While serving as the president of the European Central Bank, Draghi is widely recognized for bolstering the Euro’s stability.The European Council president’s responsibilities include chairing meetings of leaders of the 27 EU states — the council’s members — and setting their agenda. While multiple candidates could emerge the exact succession process remains uncertain. Cricially, Draghi has said he is not currently pursuing any top EU positions.Nathalie Tocci, director of the Rome-based Istituto Affari Internazionali, stressed Draghi’s appeal, suggesting his candidacy would gain momentum with enough supported.Draghi’s mooted candidacy could be a sign the EU’s ongoing support for Ukraine. He advocated for granting Ukraine EU candidate status and consistently gave military and political backing to the Kiev regime.”We agreed that we must continue to support Ukraine and put pressure on Moscow, but also begin to ask how to build peace,” Draghi told reporters last May.Under EU rules, if Michel’s successor is not elected by July then the head of government of the member-state holding the six-moth rotating chair will assume the post. That would make Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, — an opponent of NATO’s proxy war with Russia in Ukraine and Kiev’s membership of the bloc — council president.However, EU leaders have the option of appointing an interim president to block Orban from assuming the position.Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi Steps Down as Coalition Government Implodes21 July 2022, 08:20 GMTThe list of potential candidates for the European Council presidency also includes current national leaders like Spain’s Pedro Sanchez and Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen. Unlike Draghi, they are leaders of major European political parties. And while the Italian government might endorse him, some Eastern and Central European nations have reservations about the dominance of Western European leaders in top EU positions.Draghi’s political resumé is also a mixed bag. His outspoken views on fiscal integration might be at odds with nations like Germany. One EU insider described Draghi as politically charged, raising questions about the dynamics within the EU’s leadership circle.

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