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Jean-Claude Juncker's replacement is dividing Europe

France and Germany Disagree over Europe’s Leadership

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In Europe, a week after the elections, Germany and France, the two main leaders of the old continent, seem to disagree when it comes to elect the new European Commission President.  

While Germany has been leading the European Union since the 2008 financial crisis, it seems that Emmanuel Macron might want to take over the leadership. 

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However, Angela Merkel does not seem to agree to leave France having a key role in Europe. While German chancellor backed German center-right Manfred Weber, Macron has expressed his wish to divide the leading role into four jobs – two led by women and two by men. 

Germany and France have repeatedly disagreed on several topics lately – from Brexit to the migrants crisis. They will have to find an agreement on June 22nd. 

Who to replace Juncker?

Last Tuesday, an informal summit between different leaders from the European Union took place in Brussels. According to several sources, France and Germany had a major disagreement on who to replace after the end of the term of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, expressed her wish to elect the center-right wing Manfred Weber, but Emmanuel Macron protested this decision. He said that the election of a European Commission President should not be “automatic”. 

The French President also suggested that four people should fill in the new European leadership seat instead of currently one – two women and two men, for more equity.

During a press conference, Mr. Macron said : “I don’t want to rush out with a name. We need someone whose experience either in their country or in Europe that allows them to have credibility and savoir faire”, which seems to be a criticism directly intended to Manfred Weber. The latter does not have any experience in a government nor an institution.

A reshuffled bloc system

Not only this shows a new division between France and Germany, but it also reflects on the European elections’ results. For the Guardian, “European elections left things as clear as mud”.

While the two main blocs of right and left wings have bene stable since 1999, they have lost a considerable place at the 751-seat parliament – which will host new parties.

2016-established Macron’s En Marche party won 23 seats and will enter the Commission for the first time. Angela Merkel’s party lost 36 seats, and Germany’s “center-left Socialists & Democrats lost 39 seats, to reduce their total to 146”, reported the national media Deutsche Welle.

Not to mention the alt-right and nationalist parties who have strongly risen: Nigel Farage’s Brexit party who took home 31.71% of the vote, to Marine Le Pen’s far-right historical French party who won with 23.31% and the Italian right-wing Lega, led by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini which took victory with 34.33%.

Last but not least, the Green Party won 19 seats, making it even more difficult for European leaders to decide for an unifying leader.

Macron ignited a media storm

Regardless of the particular situation, the German Chancellor kept on communicating her will to support Weber. “We stand by our lead candidate, the EPP candidate, that is Manfred Weber. We have responsibility towards our voters, and we will have to wait and see. It’s too early to speak about this, everyone needs to show tolerance and a willingness to engage in compromise”, she said to Deutsche Welle.

In reaction, Emmanuel Macron organized a press conference to explain his quite different opinion. “I want to unite. If everyone remains stuck on names as they are, we’ll be blocked”, he replied.

Mr Macron also added that the alarming pro-nationalism results had to be taken seriously, as all alt-right parties across Europe turned out to be largely popular.

They were the strongest in France, which makes Marine le Pen the potential strongest candidate against Macron for the 2022 Presidential elections.

Read on Alvexo: “Germany: Merkel to step down in 2021”

And the nominees are…

As Europe seems broader than ever, so are the nominees to lead the continent.

As a result, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez publicly showed his support to the Socialist candidate Frans Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister. “He has the experience not only at the national level, but also at the European level to lead the commission”, reportedly said Sanchez.

Reuters confirmed that Emmanuel Macron approved Timmermans as well.

Margrethe Vestager, the current EU commissioner for fair competition is also a potential strong candidate, who is currently supported by Emmanuel Macron.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron will meet this Thursday in Aachen, Germany as they have confirmed to the press they would be available to agree on the new leader by June, 22nd.

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Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.