Metsola touted for possible EPP candidature to European Parliament president

EPP leader Manfred Weber will seek leadership for both EPP group and national parties presidency, paving the way for a new EPP candidate as next European Parliament president

Roberta Metsola is currently vice-president of the European Parliament. EPP leader Manfred Weber is expected to run again as leader of both EPP MEPs and national parties
Roberta Metsola is currently vice-president of the European Parliament. EPP leader Manfred Weber is expected to run again as leader of both EPP MEPs and national parties

Maltese MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament, Robert Metsola, could be tipped as a possible candidate for the European People’s Parliament to become the next European Parliament president.

The Nationalist MEP is one of two senior names, the other Dutch MEP Esther de Lange, who could be favoured for the post if current EPP leader Manfred Weber, the German MEP, does not run for the EP’s presidency.

Weber is currently chairman of the EPP parliamentary group and is seeking re-election as such, but he also intends replacing Donald Tusk as the president of the EPP, a second job in itself.

The German MEP told party colleagues in a closed-door meeting he will run this October for another term as EPP group leader, while at the same time announcing his bid to become president of the centre-right EPP next April, when the term of Tusk ends.

Weber wants to act as both leader of the EPP MEPs group, while acting as president of the EPP umbrella party for Christian-democrat and centre-right parties across Europe, a move that gives him even more power over conservative MEPs and their national parties,

According to Politico, EPP officials believe Weber deduced he would not be lected as parliamentary president to replace the socialist David Sassoli, given that another German, Ursula von der Leyen, already leads the European Commission. The EPP might instead prioritize senior female candidates for the job — including Roberta Metsola, a Maltese vice president of the Parliament, and Dutch MEP Esther de Lange, a vice president of the EPP group.

Weber’s plan to run for the party presidency was first reported in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. On 26 September, the German election will mark the departure of the redoutable EPP ally, Chancellor Angela Merkel, where her Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union — the German branch of the EPP — losing power to the Social Democrats.

Weber’s announcement means he’s backtracking from an initial plan to run as European Parliament president in January, when current Parliament President David Sassoli might need to step down under a deal political groups negotiated two years ago.

Sassoli, an Italian social democrat, became Parliament president in 2019 as part of a broader agreement inside the EU block to split institutional roles between the major parties: Sassoli is expected to stand down when his term ends in January 2022, to be replaced by someone from the EPP; the EPP took the European Commission post for Ursula von der Leyen, while Renew Europe picked Charles Michel for the European Council.

But MEPs say Sassoli is quietly campaigning for a second term, despite the traditional power-sharing arrangement between socialists and conservatives, the leading forces in the assembly. Socialist MEPs think Sassoli is frustrated because much of his term was overshadowed by the COVID-19 crisis and the introduction of complex measures to protect MEPs and staff.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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