Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Macron leaning towards backing von der Leyen as EU chief, sources say

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French President Emmanuel Macron is leaning towards endorsing Ursula von der Leyen for another term as president of the European Commission after her centre-right camp scored strongly in European Parliament elections, two sources told Reuters.

Macron has not explicitly endorsed von der Leyen since she decided to run for a second term. Although he was instrumental in placing her at the helm of the EU executive in 2019, he has floated other options this time, including Italy’s Mario Draghi.

Macron’s decision to call a snap election in France after suffering a crushing defeat in the EU vote on Sunday is one reason for endorsing von der Leyen, one of the sources said.

“He doesn’t want to add (European) instability to French instability,” the French source close to Macron told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The second source said von der Leyen had been given a boost by the strong showing of her centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). The source said Paris was likely to support her in return for commitments to French EU priorities, without elaborating.

The EPP came first in the EU elections, winning 186 seats in the 720-member European Parliament, according to provisional results.

The second source, who is familiar with Macron’s thinking but declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, named Portugal’s Antonio Costa as the most likely candidate for the position of president of the European Council.

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