Macron would back Merkel for EU's top job

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an EU summit in Sibiu, Romania on May 9, 2019. Credit: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

French president Emmanuel Macron said he “would support” German chancellor Angela Merkel to become the next president of the EU Commission.

"I won't speak for Angela Merkel," he said in an interview with Swiss TV station RTS, but added that "should she want it, I would support her. Of course. Because I think we need someone strong."

Merkel has shown no interest in the EU’s top post, and has repeatedly said that after her fourth and final term as chancellor ends in 2021, she will retire from politics.

She has thrown her support behind Manfred Weber, leader of the center-right European People’s Party for the role.

Macron is against the ‘lead candidate’ (Spitzenkandidat) system, introduced in the 2014 European elections, which automatically places the candidates from the largest party into the top EU roles.

Macron said that he objects to Weber becoming EU commission president, as Weber was unknown to voters in Europe and had not campaigned across Europe. "Europe needs faces, strong personalities, people who have personal credibility and the skills to fill the positions they hold," he said.

He repeated his opposition to the lead candidate system on Tuesday, saying that he is “attached to having two men and two women” for the four key jobs of commission president, high representative for foreign affairs, parliament president and EU Council president.

EU leaders will meet on June 21 to discuss candidates.

Currently, the official candidates who could potentially take over the commission presidency after Jean-Claude Juncker are Manfred Weber (EPP), EU competition commissioner Margarethe Vestager from the Liberal ALDE group, Frans Timmermans from the Dutch Labour Party, and Ska Keller from the Greens.

READ MORE: EU leaders gear up to haggle over the European Union's top jobs