It’s official. Former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb will vie for the post of European Commission president in the next European Parliament elections in May 2019.
Stubb declared his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker in a letter to fellow members of the European People’s Party (EPP) on October 2. In the letter, he noted that he is a “declared pro-European” who is running to defend European values and to push Europe to fill a power vacuum left by the “voluntary marginalisation” of the United States and Britain from world politics.
“It is time to rally around our cause for a strong Europe. This means mitigating unnecessary divisions between East and West, North and South. We must be better at highlighting what unites us instead of what differentiates us,” he wrote.
Stubb, 50, has been prime minister, finance minister and foreign minister of Finland and is currently a vice president at the European Investment Bank.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, the EPP, the largest trans-national group in the EU legislature, will choose its election leader at a meeting in Helsinki on November 7-8. Stubb will challenge Germany’s Manfred Weber, head of the EPP group, and possibly other conservatives.
The only other declared candidate is Slovak Socialist Maros Sefcovic, who is Juncker’s vice president for energy.
The European Parliament has demanded that the European Commission president should be one of the parties’ lead candidates, as happened for Juncker in 2014. Polls show that the EPP is likely to remain the biggest group in the chamber.