Ursula von der Leyen could have done without, last June, using an anti-ecological and anti-economic private jet to cover 50 kilometers between Vienna and Bratislava. The President of the EU Commission was on an institutional mission, but just over a hundred days after COP-26 of Glasgow the risk of publicly ending up in the crosshairs of the Greta-people was high.
And it has promptly materialized in recent days, at a very delicate moment for the political-institutional balance in Brussels and in the entire Union. Indeed, the “plane crash” has become symbolic of a real crisis of the “executive Ursula”: much more important than the so-called “Orsola government” in Italy, that is, the long-dead Count-2.
The Commission that took office after the May 2019 euro vote has had a troubled life since her birth. Suffice it to recall that von der Leyen – defense minister of the last grand coalition government in Germany – was unable to receive the vote of his chancellor in the EU Council. Angela Merkel had to abstain due to the opposition to the CDU minister by the government partner SPD: the party that won the German political elections six weeks ago. Now the social democratic leader Olaf Scholz is forming a government with the Greens and the FDP, leaving the CDU to the opposition after 16 years of Merkel’s reign. Unsurprisingly, “Ursula” immediately started to falter in Brussels.
Since the summer of two years ago – when von der Leyen even needed the votes of the M5S MEPs to gain confidence in Strasbourg – everything has meanwhile changed in Europe: and not only because of the hurricane Covid which imposed a mega Recovery Plan from 750 billion euros. While the review of economic and financial governance has been postponed, Brexit has matured and tensions with Eastern countries (Poland and Hungary) have intensified. French President Emmanuel Macron has spent almost all of his mandate without being able to launch reforms that would face internal social tensions and – last but not least – the former president of the ECB has landed at the helm of the Italian government. Mario Draghi. All this in an upset and unexplored geopolitical scenario, after Joe Biden’s assertion about Donald Trump and the involution of Xi Jinping’s leadership in China.
Against this background, the “Ursula Government” seems to be really already obsolete: “unfit” to govern an aging Europe in its Maastricht Treaties, divided internally and pressed from the outside by new threats to its own security. And it is certainly not surprising that international observers are taking into consideration an unprecedented scenario, hitherto out of the range of possibilities in a technocratic EU: a political “midterm” crisis in Brussels. A guided reshuffle of the Commission – starting with its President, once the new “traffic light” government takes office in Berlin (by Christmas). And once, next April, France will decide whether or not to confirm Macron at the Elysée. In the meantime, in Italy the quirinal knot will have been dissolved, that is the future of Draghi (which will be largely decided by the same).
The Dutch Jens Timmermans – Dutch socialist already Merkel’s first choice in 2019 – seems to be in “pole position” in Brussels, in his role as first deputy vice president with the delegation to NextGenerationEu (ecological and digital transition). But his hypothetical promotion could turn out to be secondary if the “reshuffle” of the Eurocracy mainly envisaged Merkel’s arrival at the Presidency of the EU Council, in place of the Belgian Charles Michel.
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