The power game of Merkel, Macron and Rutte

  • Post comments:0 Comments


by Leo Klinkers |

According to media reports, the European summit of 20 June 2019 on appointing candidates to succeed Donald Tusk and Jean Claude Juncker ended in a deadlock. Nothing could be further from the truth. At least from the perspective of the three protagonists Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Mark Rutte. They play the power game exactly according to the classic rules.

Rule 1: first eliminate the candidates who are not (or are not allowed to be) eligible. That worked out well on 20 June. The three ‘Spitzen’ candidates, earmarked by the European Parliament, have been rejected.

Rule 2: then discuss in a small group the way in which the real candidates – who have been known already – can be put forward. Merkel, Macron and Rutte will go to the G20 in Japan on 28 and 29 June and will hold these discussions there, far beyond the Brussels limelight. And also to consult some of the G20 key players about the appointment of Rutte as President of the European Council.

Rule 3: launch Mark Rutte at the Brussels summit on 30 June as a candidate to succeed Donald Tusk. The reason for the appointment of Rutte is the interest of Merkel, Macron and Rutte in exchanging the principle of unanimity of decision-making in the European Council for majority voting in order to make it easier to decide on the imposition of sanctions on a country like Iran, for example. See my article “Macron and Rutte intergovernmentalism 2.0”.

Rule 4: At the same time, in order to succeed Juncker, nominate a candidate from a small country, such as Greece. As a reward for the efforts to put the financial situation in that country back on track. If the Dutchman Rutte becomes President of the European Council, another Dutchman, Frans Timmermans, will not be able to become President of the European Commission. This will also prevent Timmermans from posing a threat to the autocratic European Council by arguing too strongly for the importance of democratic decision-making via the European Parliament.


Leo Klinkers – Editor



Leo Klinkers graduated in 1968 from the Faculty of Law at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. After a few years working in local government, he became responsible for research and education in public administration at the Law Faculty of Utrecht from 1971 until 1983. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis in 1974 on open access to Government documents.
Between 1971 and 1983 Leo Klinkers developed a method for interactive bottom-up policymaking. This methodology has been published in a number of books and articles and applied in many projects in the Netherlands and abroad.
Since 1983 he has worked as an independent consultant in public administration in several countries, as well as for the EU and the UN. In 2013 he was co-author of the ‘European Federalist Papers’ with Herbert Tombeur.
He recently finished his last book ‘Sovereignty, Security and Solidarity, arguing why and how the present intergovernmental administrating system of the EU should be replaced by a federal system and thus creating The United States of Europe, making America Europe’s little brother.
He is actually a co-founder and member of the Promoting Committee of FAEF (Federal Alliance of European Federalists)

Leave a Reply