Two women are set to take the two of the top jobs in Europe as part of an agreement between France and Germany.

Following three lengthy days of haggling, German Defence minister Ursula von der Leyen's name is going forward as European Commission President, while IMF head Christine Lagarde would become the new President of the European Central Bank.

European Council President Donald Tusk announced the breakthrough via Twitter shortly after 6pm this evening:

Welcoming the gender balance of the new proposal he said: "After all, Europe is a woman".

But he warned a "huge question mark" remains over whether the European Parliament will endorse this jobs package.

He said the appointment of Ursula von der Leyen would still need approval by the Parliament, but said he was "absolutely sure" that France's Christine Lagarde would be a new independent head of the European Central Bank.

After the marathon talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Mrs von der Leyen was nominated unanimously, with one abstention: "This abstention came, in line with the the rules of German voting conduct, from me," she added.

The other nominees include Charles Michel who will succeed Donald Tusk as head of the European Council. He has been Prime Minister of Belgium since October 2014.

Veteran Spanish politician Josep Borrell has been nominated as the bloc's foreign policy chief.

What does this mean for Ireland and Brexit?

The new leaders are not expected to change course on Brexit, Donald Tusk said last night. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was confident the nominee to lead the European Commission, Germany's Ursula von der Leyen, would show the same solidarity with Ireland over Brexit as its outgoing president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

He also welcomed the naming of Belgium's Charles Michel as the next head of the European Council, the European Union's intergovernmental body, saying: "He understands Brexit".

How did their names emerge?

Ursula von der Leyen's name was first touted by Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, as a potential successor to Jean-Claude Juncker in reports in Die Welt newspaper this morning. Mrs von der Leyen is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel and has served in her cabinet for the last 14 years.

Her name emerged as French President Emmanuel Macron sought to break a deadlock over the EU's top jobs.

Tired EU leaders endured a third day of arm-wrestling today, following disagreement over the former compromise candidate Frans Timmermans.

A marathon 18-hour negotiating session that began on Sunday evening broke up without agreement on Monday as the so-called 'Visegrád 4' countries - Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - sought to reject Mr Timmermans.

Italy, where the populist government shares some of the Eastern Europeans' anger at Brussels over migration, also stood in the way of his progression.

As he arrived at the summit today, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis described his candidacy as: "absolutely unacceptable".

"He has always pushed a migration policy which is unacceptable for us, so this man is absolutely unacceptable and I can't see why the prime ministers of France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany weren't able to understand," Babis said.

Other countries, including Ireland, Latvia and Croatia also objected on the grounds they had not been properly consulted about the French-German plan which was cooked up on the fringes of the G20 summit in Osaka at the weekend.

Already the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's spokesman has indicated in a tweet that Hungary, Czechia, Slovakia and Poland supported von der Leyen.

Who is Ursula von der Leyen?

Ursula von der Leyen was born in Brussels to a political family in 1958. Her father was Ernst Albrecht, who served as chief of cabinet at the newly-created European Commission. She studied economics but switched career paths before she graduated, going on to obtain a doctorate in medicine.

She joined Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats party in 1990 and was first elected to the Bundestag in 2009. She worked as Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, later becoming deputy chair of the CDU in late 2010.

The 60-year-old mother-of-seven became the first woman to hold the defence portfolio in 2013.

She has been seen by some as a natural successor to Angela Merkel.

She speaks fluent English and French and wants Germany to eventually reach NATO's requirement of spending 2% of its economic output on defence.

This followed Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014 which sparked new concerns about NATO's capabilities.

The following year Mrs von der Leyen faced another crisis in her defence role as a wave of refugees arrived in Europe. Despite growing anti-immigration sentiment, she urged restraint, arguing it was a mistake to equate refugees with terrorists.

Who is Christine Lagarde?

If 63-year-old Lagarde becomes the next ECB president, she would be the first person in the post not to be a professional economist. Before becoming the head of the International Monetary Fund, she was finance minister of France.

Ms Lagarde took up her Washington-based appointment as managing director of the IMF in 2011 and was given another five-year term in the job in 2016, meaning she would have to leave the job a year-and-a-half early to take up the new position in Frankfurt.

Until recently, Ms Lagarde had unreservedly rejected the suggestion of taking up the ECB job. Now she has called the nomination to succeed Italy's Mario Draghi from 1 November as an "honour" and said she would temporarily give up her role at the IMF during the nomination process.

While her confirmation could be lengthy, it is likely to be largely a formality as long as the eurozone's biggest member states - Germany, France and Italy - are in unity. She became a familiar face here in Ireland having been a frequent visitor as part of the 'Troika' during the years of austerity, and before Ireland exited the bailout in December 2013.

French President Emmanuel Macron says it is this experience at the IMF during the financial crisis that will give her credibility to face the markets in the years ahead.

Is the Spitzenkandidat process dead?

Several senior figures in Frans Timmermans's centre-left group were already tweeting their disgruntlement tonight as the proposed new ticket emerged.

The carefully managed Spitzenkandidat system operates by each political grouping in the European Parliament choosing a candidate by consensus or election, ahead of the nomination process.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said this evening that this Spitzenkandidat system will now have to be reviewed. 

The EPP's Manfred Weber and Socialist Frans Timmermans had both been Spitzenkadidaten for their groupings - but were ruled out during the political arm wrestling that followed, with some likely to accuse the Visegrad 4 of trampling over the democratic values in this process.

A tough fight that isn't over yet

Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he had received a commitment from fellow leaders that a socialist would now lead the European Commission's Economics and Financial Affairs portfolio.

Mr Sanchez said he had fought very hard for a socialist to be nominated to the head of the Commission but that he was pleased with the final top jobs package which he described as a "very balanced agreement".

Deciding the top jobs has been complicated by the fragmentation of the EU political landscape in the May elections to the European Parliament.

The centre-right EPP and centre-left socialist group, the dominant forces in EU politics for years, lost their combined majority in the assembly.

The liberals, which include Macron supporters, are increasingly assertive over the choice of top jobs after they and the Greens made significant gains in the polls.

Protracted wrangling to dish out the EU's top jobs is not new: in 2014 it took three summits to fill the posts.