The humiliation suffered by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in Turkey has led to a harsh institutional crisis between the German woman and the head of the European Council, Charles Michel. The two leaders spoke on Monday for the first time since the incident in Ankara, where the president of the Commission was relegated from the chairs that presided over the meeting occupied by Michel and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to community sources, Von der Leyen warned the head of the Council that he will not allow such a situation to occur again in the future. Both will meet again on Tuesday to give explanations to the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and the heads of the groups in the European Parliament.
Almost a week after the trip to Ankara, the tension between the two leaders had not subsided one iota, to the point that they had not yet spoken. A spokesperson for the Commission stated that, after an official visit to Jordan, the German woman decided to go see her family, with whom she had not been able to meet since the end of last year. And in Germany he attended to some urgent matters, but not that one. While Von der Leyen decided to remain silent, Michel justified himself in various media, without being able to calm the criticism that comes to him from civil society and the European Parliament.
Although this Monday's appointment was ordinary, community sources confirmed that the meeting was addressed in which Michel and Erdogan were left with the chairs that presided over the meeting, relegating the German to the sofa. Despite regretting the scene, the Belgian has justified that the Community rules establish that the President of the Council precedes the Head of the Commission. From the Community Executive they accept that extreme, but warn that this does not imply any difference in the protocol rank. "Is the same. They are both presidents of a community institution, "say Commission sources.
Before the meeting, von der Leyen's cabinet sent Michel's team a document claiming to reach an agreement or, in the words of the chief spokesman, Eric Mamer, a “modus operandi"That guarantees a" harmonious relationship "between both institutions. The Commission clarified that it does not want to modify the treaties or assume powers in foreign policy that do not correspond to it, but to avoid that in the future it is once again set aside to a secondary role.
A spokesman for the council declined to comment on the meeting, which he said had taken place in a "constructive" climate. One of those responsible for the communication of the Commission did not want to comment on the meeting either. "The presidents held their usual weekly meeting and discussed various current issues," he said. However, community sources explained that they discussed the meeting and that the German woman was clear and warned her that she will no longer tolerate a humiliation like the one suffered in Ankara.
Before the weekly meeting between the two, Von der Leyen had telephoned French President Emmanuel Macron. Officially, on the agenda were the European vaccination campaign and economic recovery plans. Paris, however, had already tried to bury the crisis between the two institutions over the weekend. His secretary for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, said on Sunday in Le Figaro that "the affront" of Von der Leyen was a "trap" that Erdogan set him "deliberately" and advocated closing ranks within the EU.
Example of the "European way of life"
However, the unrest within the Commission attests to the words of Vice President Margaritis Schinas in various Greek media. Schinas praised Von der Leyen, who highlighted the "courage" with which "he faced two seated men." "There is no better example of a defense of the European way of life than what he did in those few seconds," said the commissioner of the portfolio to Promote the European way of life.
The two leaders will meet this Tuesday with Sassoli and the presidents of the parliamentary groups, who also ask them for explanations for what ended up being a new fiasco for the EU in foreign policy. Parliamentary sources argued that Tuesday's appointment probably will not prevent both from appearing before the plenary session during the last week of April, given that the popular, the Social Democrats and the Greens continue to demand a debate with their presence in the European Parliament.
To the criticism received from the European Parliament for his silence, Michel continues to receive complaints from civil society. The Millenia Foundation, which fights for women's equality, wrote her an open letter with more than 5,700 signatures asking her to resign. Also the organization Women Political Leaders (WPL, for its acronym in English) called for "mutual respect" and "equality between men and women in political and decision-making spheres" to be guaranteed.