EU leaders see top jobs deal returning von der Leyen by end June

From right, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Luc Frieden, Portugal's Prime Minister Luis Montenegro, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban attend a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Monday, June 17, 2024.

EU leaders punted their final decision on the bloc's top jobs to an end-of-June summit Monday, but the contours of a deal returning Ursula von der Leyen as European Commission chief were apparent following their talks in Brussels.

Briefing reporters afterwards, European Council president Charles Michel insisted the leaders' dinner was never intended to seal a final deal on the EU's top three jobs — heading the commission, chairing summits, and stewarding the bloc's diplomacy.

"It was a good conversation. It goes in the right direction, I think," he said, calling it a "collective duty to make a decision" when leaders return to Brussels for a June 27-28 summit.

French President Emmanuel Macron echoed Michel's assessment, saying he expected a deal next week.

"Things need to simmer a little, but we are not far off," he told reporters.

Far-right gains in EU-wide elections early this month, which triggered snap polls and political upheaval in France, have focused minds around the positions helming the bloc — negotiated with an eye to geographic and political balance.

Several leaders signalled a consensus was forming that would hand von der Leyen a second term, put the Socialist former Portuguese premier Antonio Costa at the head of the Council, and have Estonia's prime minister Kaja Kallas succeed Josep Borrell as the bloc's high representative.

Hopes of an agreement...

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