Portuguese American Journal

Opinion | António Costa appointed European Council President – Len Port

By Len Port

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has been formally appointed to take on the second highest job in the European Union, that of President of the European Council. Ursula Von der Leyen has been reinstated for a second term as President of the European Commission.

The nominations were approved at a special summit on Thursday by the chancellor of Germany, the president of France and the prime ministers of Greece, Poland the Netherlands and Spain.

Costa stated he will approach the position with a “huge sense of mission,” adding that he will focus on implementing the Strategic Agenda approved to guide the EU over the next five years.

“As president of the European Council, from 1 December, I will be fully committed to promoting unity among the 27 member states,” Costa said.

The outcome had been widely predicted, though Costa’s forced resignation as prime minister last December raised eyebrows.

A lesser-known politician, Estonia’s Kaja Kallas, is to lead the bloc’s foreign policy service. These three key officials are expected to serve for the next five years.

Since the first hint of confirmation on Tuesday, the main critic has been Hungary’s Viktor Orban who believes the results have been hatched by the European People’s Party, with leftists and liberals. This runs counter to everything the EU was based on, says Orban. He insists that the top officials should represent every member state including his own, which right-wing nationalists lead.

The main challenges facing the top three leaders and their advisers are expected to be political turmoil at home, and the prospect of a highly divisive President Donald Trump abroad.

Von der Leyen is a German conservative. Her second term in the number one position places her in charge of the bloc’s executive branch. Costa, until recently leader of Portugal’s Socialist Party, will now be at the helm of the authority which includes the heads of government of the EU’s 27 member states. The two top leaders are generally seen as an appropriate balance in terms of their political and geographical backgrounds.

A significant contribution to Costa’s success in his bid for the Brussels job was the unequivocal backing he received from Portugal’s Prime Minister Luis Montenegro, even though Montenegro heads the center-right coalition that has long rivaled the center-left Socialists in Portugal’s national elections.

Costa made many key allies when he attended an EU summit in Brussels in January. Yet just a month earlier he stepped down as Portugal’s leader when investigations got underway into alleged irregularities in his government’s handling of several large investment projects. Costa denied any wrongdoing and was never charged while several of his close associates remain under investigation.

António Costa, 62, is believed to have all the right credentials for Brussels, including a moderate profile combining socialist democratic values with an orthodox approach to the economy. It is also seen as a “pragmatic negotiator.” His career so far has included working as a lawyer, mayor of Lisbon, and prime minister from 2015 to 2023.

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Opinion | António Costa heads for top job in Brussels – Len Port


Len Port, born in Northern Ireland, worked as a news reporter and correspondent, mainly in Hong Kong and South Africa, before moving to Portugal many years ago.

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