By Gerd Appenzeller
Manfred Weber’s run for president of the European Commission as the spitzenkandidat of the European People’s Party (EPP), in the hope of ‘crowning’ his political career, is unlikely to happen.
Yet, Weber believes that heads of state and government of the European Union should propose him to the European Parliament as Jean-Claude Juncker’s successor. This position should go to the successful spitzenkandidat of the strongest political group.
But Weber and his political friends are making two mistakes in their calculations. On the one hand, they overlook the fact that the key passage of the Lisbon Treaty is vague. On the other hand, the mood in Europe has changed. Germany no longer has the support it once had, as they have acted as permanent ‘blockers’ and ‘objectors’.
French President Emmanuel Macron leads those who can no longer take this. Like many other heads of state and government, he is rejecting the whole spitzenkandidaten idea in the European Parliament elections. The leaders still want to be able to nominate a female or a male candidate for the post that comes from their political circles.
Someone with executive experience knows how to govern. Manfred Weber, however, does not have that experience. Jean-Claude Juncker had such experience when he was nominated five years ago. The Luxembourger was definitely accustomed to the routine of leading a government.
The Lisbon Treaty is also unclear. It only stipulates that members of the European Council must propose a candidate for the Commission President position to the European Parliament, taking into account the outcome of the European Parliament elections. “Taking into account” means a lot, but also nothing.
And then there is the sympathy factor. Angela Merkel’s European influence has crumbled as a result of Germany’s prolonged delay when it comes to responding to reform ideas. Germany was not even consulted with regard to the recent climate initiative.
Double bad luck for the likeable Manfred Weber.
But who, then, will be the next president of the European Commission? Could it be Margarethe Vestager, Guy Verhofstadt, or maybe the successful Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier?
*First published in euractiv.com