European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker lamented the process by which leaders nominated German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to succeed him in the EU’s top job, acknowledging it “was not very transparent.”
By comparison, Juncker said during a press conference in Helsinki with Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne, “the process which led to my nomination in 2014 was very transparent, because we had lead candidates, everyone knew what will happen if this party or that party would be the strongest party in the European Parliament.”
Juncker said the Spitzenkandidat process “unfortunately didn’t become a tradition,” adding: “I always had the impression that I would enter history, but not like that … I’m a very unique guy, I was the first and the last Spitzenkandidat.”
The comments came after members of the European Parliament lashed out Thursday at EU leaders for their handling of von der Leyen’s nomination. Country chiefs rejected the two candidates for the Commission presidency who ran in the EU election as the lead candidates of their groups — Manfred Weber for the EPP and Frans Timmermans for the Socialists — and settled on the German defense minister as a compromise candidate after a marathon three-day EU summit earlier this week.
MEPs are set to vote on whether to confirm von der Leyen as the Commission president in the week of July 15. Von der Leyen held talks in Brussels with Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk on Thursday.
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