Her appointment, together with Christine Largarde, the former French finance minister, who as IMF chief urged more gentle handling of the Greek debt crisis than the austerity obsessed EU Commission, is a major win for France’s President Emmanuel Macron who emerges as Europenew king- or queen-maker.
So this new EU team is very much one that conforms to Macron’s idea of a progressive, not a nationalist Europe.
Pascale Joannin, managing director of the Robert Schuman Foundation, said: “It was a stroke of genius to propose Lagarde. “It is the first time that Europe has a woman leading these two important institutions and it sends a new, modern image of Europe.”
Factors in Mr Macron’s favour included the decision of Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez, Europe’s most powerful socialist leader, to prioritise securing the post of foreign policy high representative for Josep Borrell. It opened the door for Mr Macron’s liberal group to claim the European Council presidency for Mr Michel.
Speaking to reporters after the deal was sealed on Tuesday, Mr Macron highlighted one its lesser-known aspects. “It is a leadership team who are all French speakers,” he said. “We have always had a commission president who speaks French. It’s good this continues.”