2019 will bring a lot of changes in the European Institutions as various roles’ terms expire.
Europe’s biggest jobs reshuffle is at hand. Never have so many top EU positions become vacant at once — nor have the politics of filling them looked so wickedly complicated.
In 2019 new presidents are to be appointed at the union’s four most important institutions — the European Commission, its executive; the European Council, coordinating its political leadership; the European Central Bank, setting monetary policy for most members; and the European Parliament.
The EU’s foreign policy chief will be in the mix, as well as Europe’s nominee to be Nato’s secretary-general, and a surfeit of other European Commission posts. Brussels is thick with intrigue.
There is recognition, too, that the internal and external pressure on the bloc means more is at stake than horse-trading between personalities, parties or countries.
This time “is very different”, said Fredrik Reinfeldt, a former Swedish premier who took part in the last big EU reshuffle.
“We have Trump as president of the US, Brexit in the UK, Italy going from being one of the most pro-EU countries to one of the most anti, and nationalist sentiment raging in eastern Europe . . . the context is completely different.”