Merkel stands by Weber for top job, EU leaders divided

Published May 29, 2019, 7:31 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that she stood by centre-right candidate Manfred Weber for president of the European Commission in talks with fellow EU leaders.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech during the Germany-Japanese Dialogue Forum in Tokyo on February 5, 2019. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

But, speaking after a summit dinner in Brussels, the German leader confirmed that some of her colleagues had backed other candidates, and that the search for compromise would continue.

“We stand by our lead candidate, the EPP candidate, that is Manfred Weber. Others stand by their candidate, which is obvious,” Merkel told reporters as the other leaders left the venue.

“We have responsibility towards our voters, and we will have to wait and see. It’s too early to speak about this, everyone needs to show tolerance and a willingness to engage in compromise.”

The centre-right EPP bloc lost ground in last week’s EU election but is still the biggest single party in the European Parliament, and its leaders want German conservative Weber to get the Commission job.

But centrist leaders, led by France’s President Emmanuel Macron, have formed an anti-Weber front and are pushing the cause of Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans and Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager.

After Tuesday’s informal meeting, the leaders are due to spend some weeks negotiating before their June 21 summit, when a decision may be made on the senior EU leadership positions.