Saturday, June 15, 2024

Why Europe’s next president may be made in France

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According to reports in French media, and officials familiar with discussions inside Macron’s team, Breton, a flamboyant former telecoms executive and France’s current EU commissioner, is now firmly in the mix. 

“Everyone knows he wants to continue,” a French diplomat told POLITICO when asked about Breton’s future chances. “Some are wondering whether he doesn’t need to run as a lead candidate if he wants to carry on as EU commissioner.” 

The job of running the Commission, the 27-country bloc’s executive arm, has become one of the most powerful roles in world politics. Von der Leyen is the EU’s most visible public official, regularly meeting world leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden, and has been the public face of the bloc’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Her post is due to fall vacant next summer when the top positions in the Brussels institutions are all carved up after the European Parliament elections. 

Von der Leyen has yet to declare whether she’s keen to stay on for a second term, and has been linked to other high-profile positions such as the top job at NATO. 

It’s not yet known what the process will be for choosing the president of the Commission next year. In theory, the EU’s political parties will put forward their own pre-determined lead candidate who will spend the European election campaign setting out their vision to voters, in a system known in Brussels jargon as the Spitzenkandidaten process. 

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