Dutch Timmermans loses European president position to German Defense Minister

Frans_Timmermans (Habib M’henni, Wikimedia Commons)

After days of long and intense meetings in Brussels, the European leaders reached an agreement. Dutch Frans Timmermans will not be the president of the European Commission. That position will go to German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen. Instead Timmermans will likely stay on in his current position, vice-president of the European Commission, though the European Parliament still has to approve that, NOS and RTL Nieuws report.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte called it a shame that Timmermans lost out on the top position. "I think that he would have been a good Commission president", he said to reporter Fons Lambie after the summit in Brussels. "I'm also not really happy about it." Though he did not call the vice-president position a consolation prize. "We're getting what we already have, one of the highest positions of the Commission, directly under the president. Frans can continue on the level where he is now."

One of the problems Timmermans faced is that he lacked the support of Eastern European countries Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But his downfall was the fact that the Christian Democrats did not want a Social Democrat in the highest function - they weren't against Timmermans himself, but against his party colors. 

The Dutch labor politician still seemed to have a chance when multiple other candidates were mentioned, but none could get enough support. Until French president Emmanuel Macron suggested Von der Leyen on Monday night. After hours of negotiations on Tuesday afternoon, the German Defense Minister had enough support and was nominated to be president of the European Commission. 

Macron called Timmermans a good candidate after the summit on Tuesday. "Timmermans worked hard and well and he will continue to play a vital role in the Commission", the French president said. "But that the presidency goes to Von der Leyen is a fact. And one that all political parties and countries will have to recognize."