June 26, 2019 / 11:41 AM / a month ago

Merkel: We stand by the 'Spitzenkandidat' system, but it's complicated

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session at the Bundestag, the lower house of German parliament in Berlin, Germany, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she still fully supported the ‘Spitzenkandidat’ system for choosing who should lead the European Commission but acknowledged that it would be difficult as the European Parliament was so fragmented.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the three so-called Spitzenkandidaten - or lead candidates - had each failed to receive enough support among EU leaders in Brussels. He wants to block Merkel’s candidate, conservative Manfred Weber.

Under the ‘Spitzenkandidat’ principle, the lead candidate of the party with the most seats has a claim on the European Commission presidency. Weber was top candidate of the party that won the most seats but is opposed by several national leaders and party groups.

“We have a responsibility together for Europe,” Merkel said of her fellow national leaders and the legislators of the European Parliament. “So I hope we can come to a solution that doesn’t reject the Spitzenkandidat process but also lets Europe be effective. For that everyone has to move a bit.”

Last week a summit of European leaders failed to agree on who to appoint to a raft of top European Union jobs. The winner needs the backing of all national leaders as well as a parliamentary majority.

“Not everyone in the European Council is in favour of the Spitzenkandidat process and since we value the Franco-German relationship greatly we have to accept that the French president has a different view on it from me,” Merkel told the lower house of parliament.

Reporting by Paul Carrel; Writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Michelle Martin

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