Manfred Weber, German MEP and leader of the group in the European Parliament, has, in a surprise move, ruled himself out of the Presidency. In an agreement, decided just over two years ago, the first half of the 2019 – 2024 term would be held by the Socialists, and the latter half by the EPP.
Weber, who ran as the lead candidate for the EPP in the 2019 elections, where the EPP received the highest number of votes, did not garner support from heads of state and governments to take on the Presidency, a position that ultimately went to Ursula von der Leyen.
Weber is instead hoping to create a dual-role for himself, that of President of the Group and the Party. The move has cast doubt over whether the agreement will be upheld and whether the EPP may now in fact lose the Presidency. Current President, Italian Socialists David Sassoli has made clear that he would be willing to stay on.
The EPP is insisting the deal should stand, and the Parliament presidency should pass to another MEP. The EPP’s top position, Party President, will be vacated because former European Council President Donald Tusk, who has held the position since 2019, has announced his plans to step down to return to national politics in Poland. Party insiders have discussed bringing forward the end of his term and choosing a successor at an April meeting.
Among the MEPs tipped as serious contenders for the European Parliament Presidency, will be available come January 2022, are Roberta Metsola of Malta, Esther de Lange of the Netherlands, and Esteban González Pons of Spain.
Weber’s apparent intention with the proposed dual-role is to give the EPP a stronger identity by working both as group leader, overseeing and coordinating legislation inside his group, and as president, strengthening ties with national leaders and party members.
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