Merkel backs ‘real’ lead candidates, tipping Timmermans and Weber for top EU jobs – Updated

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Update: POLITICO reports that Merkel backs ‘real’ lead candidates, tipping Timmermans and Weber for top EU jobs

In what is described as a slap at Macron, German chancellor focuses on a leadership deal between conservatives and social democrats.

Bloomberg reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed Manfred Weber and Frans Timmermans as the candidates left in the race to lead the European Union’s executive arm.

Without mentioning them by name, Merkel made clear that the center-right German, from her political family, and the center-left Dutchman are the official and only contenders to head the European Commission. That leaves liberal Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust chief, out of the race.

“Both Spitzenkandidaten, whom I would call the only real Spitzenkandidaten, are in the race and have both made sure that the Spitzenkandidaten process will remain in the future,” Merkel said on Saturday on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan. “We are on a path which will maybe make a solution possible tomorrow.”

Earlier: European Union leaders have agreed that conservative German candidate Manfred Weber will not become president of the bloc’s executive Commission, Germany’s Die Welt daily reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the decision.

The decision was reached during talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Die Welt said.

If confirmed, the compromise would be a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had backed Weber’s bid to replace Jean-Claude Juncker.

French President Emmanuel Macron had opposed Weber’s candidacy, partly because of his lack of experience in high office.

Weber is the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), the conservative bloc that won most seats in the election and which includes Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

A senior European diplomat told Reuters that socialist Dutchman Frans Timmermans, a deputy head at the Commission, was the front-runner to succeed Juncker.

“Timmermans is the best placed,” the diplomat said.

The EU’s 28 national leaders will meet on June 30 to decide who fills the five prominent positions that would help the bloc navigate through internal and external challenges.

Reuters / Bloomberg

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