The latest in Brussels to launch a bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission is Frans Timmermans, the deputy head of the EU executive. He announced his decision on October 10, saying he would seek to lead the centre-left campaign for May’s European Parliament elections.

Addressing supporters in Denmark, Timmermans – a former foreign minister – said he hoped to run a “beautiful and optimistic campaign” in defence of a European Union which he has helped see through several crises since European Commission President Juncker made him his first vice-president in 2014.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Timmermans, whose fluency and passionate speaking style in German, English, French, Italian and Russian, may make him a formidable campaigner across the continent, stands a good chance of winning the formal backing of the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the EU.

However, his prospects of becoming Commission president when Juncker steps down next November are less clear. Polls show the left struggling across Europe and the way in which national leaders will nominate Juncker’s successor is not yet agreed.