BRUSSELS (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday threw her weight behind the candidacy of one of her allies in the European Parliament to become the next head of the EU’s executive.
Manfred Weber, the head of the European People’s Party, had earlier announced his intention to lead the grouping of center-right parties in next year’s elections for the Parliament of the 28-nation bloc.
“I want to be EPP candidate in the 2019 European elections and become the next president of the European Commission,” Weber said on Twitter.
Weber, a member of the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union that’s allied with Merkel’s party, said: “Europe needs a new start and more democracy.”
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The EU’s powerful executive Commission is currently led by Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, who is also with the EPP. His five-year term ends next year.
Several EU countries have recently expressed concerns that too many Germans hold high EU posts.
Merkel told reporters in Berlin that there are still several months left before the EPP chooses who will lead the grouping into next May’s European elections.
Should the EPP emerge as the strongest force in those elections, the 46-year-old engineer would be in a strong position to succeed Juncker.
“There are many steps that need to be taken before then, but the very first one has occurred now with the announcement of his candidacy,” said Merkel, adding: “I support the candidacy of Manfred Weber.”