Wednesday 21 August 2019

Leaders not parties should pick EU chief - Macron

"We must choose the best possible candidates, for a strong and ambitious European project," Mr Macron said. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Rachael Alexander

French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted strong, competent officials to lead European institutions in the next five years, regardless of their nationality, but stuck to his opinion that EU leaders, not parliament, should pick them.

With European parliament elections coming up later this month, EU leaders have started horse-trading behind the scenes over which officials, and from which countries, should lead EU institutions including its executive, the European Commission.

"I am not obsessed with nationality issues," Mr Macron told a press conference in Romania.

"We must avoid a situation whereby compromises end up with the least good candidate.

"We must choose the best possible candidates, for a strong and ambitious European project," Mr Macron said.

He added that he did not feel bound by the "Spitzenkandidaten" system, whereby parties in the EU parliament would pick the head of the European Commission, and not EU leaders, as was done in the past.

"In 15 days, some 400 million Europeans will choose between a project...to build Europe further or a project to destroy, deconstruct Europe and return to nationalism," Mr Macron said.

"We need to move faster now and with more determination on European renaissance.

"Climate, protection of borders and a model of growth, a social model...is what I really want for the coming years."

France and seven other EU countries have proposed getting to "net-zero greenhouse gas emissions" by 2050.

Divided over issues ranging from migration to democratic standards, the EU is grappling with Brexit and a wave of populism.

Irish Independent

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