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Macron wants von der Leyen replaced – Bloomberg

French president is reportedly considering former European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi as an alternative head of the Commission

French President Emmanuel Macron is seeking to replace European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and is currently discussing options with other EU leaders, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

Von der Leyen is now gearing up for elections in less than two months, seeking to secure another five-year term. Macron, who was one of the key figures behind elevating her into the top EU job, has been openly criticizing the President’s approach to running the EU Commission.

“The commission presidency is there to defend the general interest, so it must not be over-politicized. Which, it has to be said, was not at all the case with this outgoing commission,” Macron said in Brussels last month.

The French president has been in touch with other EU leaders over potential candidates to replace the incumbent to lead the commission, namely former Italian PM and European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with these discussions.

Sources in Brussels, including those with von der Leyen’s office, have commented that it remains unclear whether Macron had been genuinely seeking to oust her or was merely putting pressure on in order to extract concessions from her in the future.

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European Council President Charles Michel (L) and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen leave after a press conference.
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Macron, alongside then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were the key figures in 2019 behind fielding von der Leyen, then German Defense Minister, for the EU Commission presidential elections.

Von der Leyen is still a clear favorite for the upcoming elections, given the fact that she is the main candidate for the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), which has the most seats at the European Parliament and is expected to further reinforce its positions during the polls in June. However, a candidate fielded by the EPP still requires backing from an absolute majority in parliament.

The position of the incumbent EU president has been damaged by multiple high-profile scandals, with the latest erupting earlier this month when she found herself in a storm of criticism over giving fellow German MEP Markus Pieper the lucrative job of “special adviser,” with a reported salary of €17,000 a month.

The appointment “has triggered questions about the transparency and impartiality of the nomination process” within the bloc, multiple senior officials, including the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, and Commissioner Thierry Breton, said jointly in a complaint to von der Leyen. The Commission, however, brushed off the allegations, stating it “has every confidence in the fact that the process took place in full compliance with procedures.”

April 25, 2024 at 02:32AM
RT

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