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Grybauskaite as next Council President?

Dalia Grybauskaite arrives at the EU Council [Council newsroom]

By Angele Kedaitiene

Last night on Tuesday (28 May), leaders of the European Union have started negotiations over the next top jobs in Brussels and in Frankfurt, while emphasizing the importance of gender equality so that two out of the four posts available be occupied by women.  

Dalia Grybauskaite, the outgoing President of Lithuania, has been mentioned by diplomats and politicians as a possible candidate to be the next president of the EU Council, the job now held by Poland’s former Prime Minister Donald Tusk. 

Leaders have to decide who will be the next presidents of the European Commission and the European Central Bank and the European Parliament, not forgetting also the Union’s foreign affairs chief. The candidates’ personal qualifications, theirs programs, but also political affiliation, geography and gender will be taken into consideration. 

How good is Grybauskaite’s profile? First of all, she has an extensive European experience. She has worked as EU budget Commissioner in Barroso’s Commission, she participated in EU summits for 10 years, and earlier she has represented Lithuania at meetings in Brussels as finance minister. 

Furthermore, at least one high-ranking post should go to Central and Eastern European countries. Apart from Grybauskaite, other potential candidates include Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva, Slovakia’s Maros Sefcovic and Latvia’s Valdis Dombrovskis. 

Gender equality become a key element in European politics, and in this respect at least one top job should be given to a woman. Apart from Grybauskaite and Georgieva, other female candidates include Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager and France’s Christine Lagarde. 

What could act against her is her character. Grybauskaite is known for her straightforwardness and blunt rhetoric, which raises doubts whether she would be able to reconcile different positions in search for a consensus.  

Furthermore, although Grybauskaite is known for her centre right views, she has no affiliation with any political party, which may prove a handicap if European parties seek to push through their candidates.  

There are also certain white spots in her biography, which have raised the concerns already when she became the President of Lithuania, related to her possible affiliations with pro-Soviet forces on the birth of Lithuanian independence.  

But finally, none of the candidates is perfect. They are only humans, politicians with certain background and experiences. Some countries like soft candidates, other – strong, although the recent demand is for kinder leaders.  

Having silently supported the Spitzenkandidaten process of appointing the President of the European Commission, just before the EU Council of 28 of May Grybauskaite made a U-turn, stating that this innovation was against EU Treaties.  Certainly, the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union does not specify the process of appointment, although the Spitzenkandidaten process was used successfully in 2014.  But Grybauskaite says the situation compared to 2014 has changed, the composition of the European Parliament has changed, that new leaders came up. Indeed, she is not the only one who says the Spitzenkandidaten process should not apply this time.  

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