German Chancellor Angela Merkel has approached French President François Hollande privately to ask if he would be willing to put forward Christine Lagarde, the former French cabinet minister who is now head of the IMF, as president of the European Commission, according to a Reuters report.
Yet just last Friday, Merkel appeared to endorse Jean Claude Juncker, former prime minister of Luxembourg and euro-fanatic, for the job, saying she was “now conducting all of my talks in the spirit that Jean-Claude Juncker should become president of the European Commission.”
This is not the first time Lagarde’s name has been mentioned to be head of powerful commission, which has sole power of proposing legislation and enforcing EU law.
As Breitbart News reported on May 22, Lagarde’s name has been floated in recent weeks to try to stop a power grab by the European Parliament, which wants to force the European Council, made up of heads of state and government of the member states, to accept its nominee Juncker for president of the commission. However, Lagarde may not want the job.
Now the Reuters report – which a German government spokesman has said is wrong – quotes a French source who said: “Merkel raised [the issue of Lagarde] privately with Hollande, who did not take a final position but said he did not think it would be a good idea for Europe to lose the IMF post.”
Emerging nations have said they want to break a long-standing arrangement under which a European gets the top IMF job and an American heads the World Bank. Lagarde was appointed to the IMF by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011 to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was disgraced in a sex and sleaze scandal.
Lagarde’s nomination by the European Council to head the commission would be welcomed by David Cameron and others who oppose Juncker, a Brussels insider who wants to see the EU turned into a single state.
Juncker claims he must be chosen for the job because he is the nominee of the parliament’s centre-right parties, who won the most seats in the elections to the European Parliament last month.
Meanwhile, another French source told Reuters there was no way the Socialist president, under pressure from Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front, which won the election in France, and the left wing of his own party, could back Lagarde, a member of the centre-right opposition, for the top European Union job.
Still, as Open Europe points out “Number 10 will also be hoping that this is Merkel’s first action to try to move away from Jean-Claude Juncker. While she has never been entirely keen on him, she has come under severe domestic pressure. Having a clear, credible alternative ready, such as Lagarde, would certainly help.”
Some sources say however that the report “may refer to a conversation taking place before the European elections, which would, of course, make the story far less interesting.”
The timetable before the appointment is as follows:
26-27 June 2014: New Commission president nominated by EU leaders at June European Council meeting.
14-17 July 2014: European Parliament votes to approve or reject new Commission president at plenary session.
Summer 2014: Each EU country nominates their commissioners. New Commission President distributes portfolios within his team.
September: Commissioners scrutinised in individual hearings before Parliament.
Oct. 2014: European Parliament votes to approve or reject new European Commission as a whole.
1 Nov. 2014: Target date for new Commission to take office.