Italy's Meloni says EU top jobs deal ignores voters' wishes

Italian PM Meloni and Hungarian PM Orban meet in Rome

By Angelo Amante and Matteo Negri

ROME (Reuters) -Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni criticised on Wednesday plans to share out the top jobs in EU institutions, saying they ignored the successes of rightwing parties at this month's European Parliament elections.

Sources said on Tuesday that the three main, broadly centrist European groups - which do not include Meloni's conservatives - had agreed to a deal on the bloc's top posts, which would include picking Germany's Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as head of the EU's executive Commission.

The deal will be submitted for European Union leaders' approval at a summit in Brussels starting on Thursday. If confirmed, it would represent continuity from the past, with pro-EU factions keeping hold of power despite a surge in support for far-right and eurosceptic parties in the EP elections.

"It does not seem to me that a willingness to take into account what the citizens have said at the ballot box has emerged so far," Meloni told lawmakers, saying the parties that saw an increase in their political support in the latest elections had to be taken into account in the negotiations.

Meloni's right-wing Brothers of Italy - the leading force in the European Conservatives and Reformists Party (ECR) in the European Parliament - won the most votes in Italy.

A rightwards shift was also seen in France and Germany, where the ruling parties suffered heavy defeats.

Meloni said her ECR group, which has overtaken the liberals in the EU assembly, deserved a key say in the appointments.

"The third (largest) group today is a group that is not liked by those who are deciding," she said, calling the EU a "bureaucratic giant" whose choices were dictated by "ideology."

The top jobs deal would make Portuguese ex-premier Antonio Costa the chair of meetings of EU national leaders and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas the EU foreign policy chief, sources said.

Meloni said this kind of deal ran counter to the original spirit of the European Union.

"(EU institutions) were conceived as neutral entities, thus able to guarantee all member states, regardless of the political colour of the governments of those member states," she said.

The three main EP factions have the votes to get the package through the European Council of EU leaders. But a new term for Commission chief von der Leyen, a Christian Democrat, needs approval from the EP, where she will likely need to broaden her support.

Diplomats said von der Leyen may seek Meloni's support by offering Italy a powerful portfolio in the Commission.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante and Matteo Negri; additional reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; editing by Gareth Jones and Gavin Jones)