Macron wants EU top job for ex-Italian PM Draghi

    WORLD  24 May 2024 - 16:04

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants a top job in Brussels for Italy's former Prime Minister Mario Draghi — it's just a matter of figuring out the right role.

    One of the biggest strategic questions around the EU election on June 6-9 is whether France will back a second term for Germany's Ursula von der Leyen as president of the European Commission while relations between Paris and Berlin are frosty.

    Asked whether France supports von der Leyen's bid, Pascal Canfin, an MEP from Macron's liberal Renaissance party with a direct line to the president, said: "France and everyone in the presidential ecosystem would like Draghi to play a role."

    Macron has long been rumoured to be manoeuvring behind the scenes to put Draghi, a technocrat who helmed a national unity government that steered Italy through the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, at the head of the EU executive.

    But it's the first time a French official has publicly endorsed him for a top job in Brussels.

    Crucially, France is ideologically aligned with Draghi, who would not want fiscal rules to thwart generous spending on remoulding the European economy. Indeed, the former central banker is seen as a key ally in Paris' next fight within the bloc: finding trillions of euros of public investment to catch up with the industrial superpowers: China and the U.S.

    "He has the credibility to try and convince [other countries] of the capacity for long-term investment and the need for common investments, which is a huge challenge," Canfin said.

    The difficulty for France, however, is that the political configurations will be very hard to navigate, particularly if Paris wants to take the No.1 job away from von der Leyen.

    Draghi is not officially affiliated with any major party, so Macron would need to strike a major political deal with European leaders from von der Leyen's European People's Party and with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

    That would be in addition to getting far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to nominate Draghi. The 76-year-old technocrat would not be the most obvious political ally to Meloni — but she would be likely to see the advantages of an Italian at the helm, running the EU.

    Speaking to POLITICO about advancing Draghi's candidacy for a front-rank job during an interview at the headquarters of the Renaissance party in Paris, Canfin conceded: "There's no easy way to get there."

    Caliber.Az

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