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Bad News for Weber?

The results of the European elections were bad news for Manfred Weber, the German-backed candidate to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president.

For the first time since 1979, when EU elections began, the center left and the center right lost their absolute majority. The European People's Party, supporting Weber, got 179 seats in the new 751-seat EU legislature, down 38 seats from the previous election. The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats won 153 seats, down 34.

Before the EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss the top jobs after the European elections, Weber, who got the EPP's backing as leading candidate, or Spitzenkandidat, for the next Commission presidency, was faced with a massive diplomatic counter-offensive by the French.

At the EU exploratory summit after the elections. Merkel strongly backed Weber. But she also reminded her colleagues not to open too many wounds in the coming selection process, since the member countries will need to come together again to negotiate the coming huge EU financing plan.

EU leaders charged Donald Tusk, the Council president, to consult with EU member governments in the coming weeks on a list of appointees with the aim of having two woman candidates among the top EU jobs.

As Eurointelligence sums up: "[Competition Commissioner] Margrethe Vestager at the Commission might leave open the possibility of both a German and a French president of the ECB. We have some trouble believing that Merkel would accept a combination of a liberal as head of the Commission and a French central banker at the ECB and no German in any key position. The Germans have no candidate for the European Council. So, we ask ourselves: what will Germany get from such a compromise? No matter how we turn and twist this, we always come back to the conclusion that the chances of Weber at the Commission and current Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann at the ECB are inversely related. And Weber's chances are falling."

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Author:Engelen, K.
Publication:The International Economy
Date:Mar 22, 2019
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