European leaders likely to shun Manfred Weber for top commission post

EU leaders meet today in Brussels to discuss who will fill the bloc’s top posts

Angela Merkel and Emanuel Macron will have a big influence on who will become European Commission president but matters are not at all straightforward as EU leaders hold their summit in Brussels
Angela Merkel and Emanuel Macron will have a big influence on who will become European Commission president but matters are not at all straightforward as EU leaders hold their summit in Brussels

German MEP Manfred Weber is likely to get the short end of the stick as EU leaders gather in Brussels to decide on the bloc’s top posts.

Weber was the lead candidate for European Commission president of the European People’s Party in May’s elections.

The EPP emerged as the largest political grouping but the liberals and the socialists together are able to block Weber’s claim to the top job in the EU executive.

But the German MEP also enjoys very little support among EU leaders, who have to agree on a name.

EU leaders are meeting on Thursday afternoon in a bid to discuss Jean-Claude Juncker’s replacement. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is also in Brussels and prior to the summit, attended a meeting of the Socialists and Democrats.

A source in Brussels told MaltaToday that a common thread among EU leaders appeared to be opposition for Weber and the Spitzenkandidat system.

“Weber does not enjoy support in Council but things are still pretty much in the air,” the source said.

It is unlikely EU leaders will emerge from today’s summit meeting with a name for European Commission president, given the divergent views. The summit ends tomorrow.

European Council President Donald Tusk sounded upbeat before the summit but the horse-trading is likely to continue beyond the Brussels meeting.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s name has been floated as a possible candidate for commission president but so far, she has stuck with her support for Weber, a fellow German who hails from the same political family.

Other names have been floated, such as Michel Barnier, who represented the EU in Brexit talks with Britain.

Merkel and French President Emanuel Macron carry the most influence but the evenly spread balance of power that resulted in parliament after May’s election has complicated matters further. 

EU leaders have to decide on several key posts but none of these will be on the table until agreement is reached on European Commission president.

The other posts include that of European foreign affairs representative to replace Federica Mogherini, European council president to replace Tusk and head of the European Central Bank to replace Mario Draghi.

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