Manfred Weber, conservative leader in the EU Parliament, announces bid for Commission President
Manfred Weber, leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament and an ally of Angela Merkel launched his candidacy for president of the next European Commission in 2019 on Wednesday.
“I want to become the leading candidate of the EPP (European People’s Party) for the 2019 European elections and be the next president of the European Commission,” Weber said on Twitter, before announcing it in person in a short statement to the press.
The 46-year-old Bavarian is from the CSU, the conservative German party, allied with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who expressed her support for Weber’s candidacy a few moments after his announcement.
“I support the candidacy of Manfred Weber,” said Merkel, adding that “there are many steps that need to be taken before [the elections], but the very first one has occurred now with the announcement of his candidacy.”
Manfred Weber has been the Chairman of the EPP Group, the largest party in the European Parliament, since 2014.
At the European level, the EPP includes various right-wing parties, such as Republicans in France, Merkel’s CDU, and the party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. It is also the party of the current President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.
Mr Weber is the first candidate to declare himself from the EPP on the eve of the official opening of the candidatures, which will be closed on 17 October. The EPP will then choose its candidate at a party conference in Helsinki on 7 and 8 November.
Defining himself as a “European politician,” Manfred Weber said he wants to “build bridges” with European citizens, and go beyond the clichés of “Eastern Europe versus the West” or a “Europe of the rich and poor.”
Other names regularly cited in the European press as possible candidates from the EPP include former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb and France’s Michel Barnier, currently the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.
The president of the European Commission is tasked with pursuing the EU executive’s policy agenda. The Commission president also represents the EU at major international summits, such as the G7 and G20.