German EU lawmaker Manfred Weber and former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb are fighting for the most influential position in the European Union – European Commission President. They will make their pitch speeches at a gathering in Helsinki to become the European People’s Party (EPP) top candidate for the European Parliament elections in May 2019. The EPP will decide whom to nominate for the job that will shape the bloc’s laws and global trade deals.
Observers agree that because of the new dynamic in politics – namely EPP’s declining influence in France and Spain and the rise of far-right parties across the continent – EPP represents outdated politics. “This is not the old Europe that some accuse us of. The EPP is the most credible political group to lead Europe,” EPP President Joseph Daul said and added that Mr. Stubb and Mr. Weber “represent the new generation”. The incumbent Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is stepping down next year following three decades in politics.
Being the leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament and with the support of German Chancellor Merkel, Mr. Weber is the current favorite. Almost two thirds of the EPP members’ 734 votes could go to Mr. Weber based on the forecasts considering Germany’s disproportional presence in the EPP’s composition. “This is a football match between Germany and Finland. I wish it was ice hockey,” Mr. Stubb said, referring to his country’s national sport. Mr. Stubb could potentially benefit from the secret ballot as some are concerned that Mr. Weber could solidify German influence in the bloc as the United Kingdom is leaving the EU.