With European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker set to step down shortly after European Parliament elections in May 2019, the most powerful group in the European Parliament – the conservative EPP – is slated to present its preferred candidate as early as November. The presentation will likely be held at the party’s congress in Helsinki.
But Manfred Weber, who heads the Christian Democrats in European Parliament, has already announced his intention to lead the European Commission on September 5.
The head of EPP has German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as commission president after European elections in May.
After announcing her support, Merkel also called on the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, to overcome internal divisions before decisive state elections in Bavaria and Hesse later this month, reported Bloomberg.
Manfred Weber “has the chance to become commission president,” Merkel told a convention of the CDU/CSU youth organisation in the northern German city of Kiel on September 6. “We should support him with all our heart.”
According to DW, since the EPP is expected to come out ahead in the upcoming European elections, its candidate for the Commission presidency will have a stronger chance of winning the approval of the EU heads of state.
But there is always a chance the weaker parliamentary groups on the left could pull together to push through a joint candidate of their own.
Meanwhile, several members of the CDU/CSU youth organisation once again blamed Merkel’s refugee policy for the poor showing in the polls. Merkel defended her policy but admitted that the performance of her governing grand coalition was disappointing. “These polls don’t fall from heaven,” she said. “They have an explanation.”
According to Bloomberg, in a slight against Merkel, a majority of the 1,000 delegates of the convention voted for a 12-year term limit for future chancellors. Merkel has been in power for almost 13 years. Her fourth term will officially end in 2021.