Manfred Weber announced run to lead centre right in European election

The Bavarian politician hopes to become the next European Commission president through a 'lead candidate' system that was opposed by several EU member states

Member of the European parliament Manfred Weber (Getty Images)
Member of the European parliament Manfred Weber (Getty Images)

Manfred Weber, current leader of the European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament announced today that he will be running to be the centre-right's lead candidate in next year's European election. 

He announced his candidacy in a series of tweets in German, English and French, saying he hopes to secure the nomination at a party congress in November.

The 46-year-old Bavarian, a senior official in Bavaria's Christian Social Union, said that he hopes that this will lead to him being a candidate for European Commission president under what is known as the Spitzenkandidat, or 'lead candidate' system backed by the European Parliament.

"Europe is a turning point," he said. "Today, it's about standing up for Europe and defending our values, because we are being attacked from outside and from within. It's about the survival of our European way of life."

Weber said that he hopes to bring Europe back to the people and that a new start for the EU is necessary to achieve a better, more united, more democratic Europe. "There can be no 'business as usual'" he added.

He confirmed that he is standing to be the lead candidate of the EPP in order to secure his position as president of the European Commission. "I told my EPP parliamentary group this today. I want to renew the connection between the people and the EU."

Other EPP politicians have not declared a similar intention to run for the group's nomination, although former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb and EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, have been widely mentioned as potential candidates.

Last week, Weber achieved Angela Merkel's backing to run as EPP lead candidate, although officials from the German chancellor's Christian Democrats made clear that this did not mean she was her pick for the Commission presidency.

At an informal summit last February, leaders of EU governments have expressed their refusal to give the Spitzenkandidat their unconditional backing. They argued that they cannot be legally bound to choose from among the lead candidates.

The Spitzenkandidat process was first used in a 2014 election and proved successful for the current Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

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