BRUSSELS – The main center-right group in the EU parliament will insist its lead candidate be appointed president of the European Commission, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) declared Sunday.
“We won the election and the EPP ‘spitzenkandidat’ Manfred Weber will be president of the European Commission,” Joseph Daul told reporters, after a vote projection gave the group the most seats.
Under the “spitzenkandidat” process, European parliamentarians are supposed to vote to endorse the lead candidate of the biggest political group to emerge from the election to lead the Commission, the EU executive arm.
But under the European Treaty, the job of nominating an official to Brussels’ top job falls to the European Council — the leaders of the 28 member states, many of whom oppose the parliamentary system.
Germany’s powerful leader Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose CDU party is affiliated with the EPP, has said she will back fellow German conservative Weber’s claim, but French President Emmanuel Macron will not.
The leaders will meet on Tuesday evening to launch the selection process for the top jobs, but beforehand Weber will try to rally fellow MEPs and group leaders to get behind the spitzenkandidat process.
“Without the EPP there is no majority among democratic parties. we are therefore ready to negotiate, and of course we will defend the most important job at the spitzenkandidat level,” Daul said.
In the outgoing parliament, the EPP held a majority in coalition with the centre-left S&D, but both groups seem to have lost seats in this week’s elections and they will need support from liberals to rebuild their base.