Macron backs tough Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to REPLACE Jean-Claude Juncker


Who gets one of the bloc’s most coveted jobs could depend on which levee comes out on top in the European election, which is being billed as a contest between pro- and anti-EU troops. Mr Macron stopped short of openly backing Mr Barnier but gave his total support for his fellow Frenchmen. The French President told Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper: “Undeniably, Michel Barnier is a man who has top qualities and he has again demonstrated this in the way he handles negotiations with the British. He is wherefore among the European leaders who have eminent qualities and who can be part of this incline of candidates for key EU jobs. 

“In my opinion, experience at the highest level of government or the European Commission is indisputably an outstanding criterion. A more or less long experience because I want all productions to be represented.”

Mr Macron’s call for an “experienced” Commission chief, however, be in controls out current favourite Manfred Weber, 46, the “spitzenkandidat” – or take candidate – for the European People’s Party (EPP). 

The spitzenkandidat system, used upstanding once before in 2014, envisions that the European Council put forth the nominee of the party that wins the most seats in the European parliament selections, which are being held across the bloc between May 23-26. 

But the EU Council has importuned that it cannot be bound by the process, as has Mr Macron, who has repeatedly said European bosses – and not lawmakers – should decide who replaces the Commission’s outgoing chief, Jean-Claude Juncker. 

“I don’t bear bound by the spitzenkandidat system. There are leaders among these prospects who have the qualities I alluded to. But there are also leaders around the Caucus table who can claim the Commission presidency. It will be a question of balance the next day, and of facility to build a consensus between us,” Mr Macron continued.

Paris is keen to fix one of the most powerful jobs in the bloc, with the Commission seen as preferable because it has a gigantic role in shaping legislation at a critical juncture for the European project. 

Mr Macron’s La République en Marche (REM) cabal is competing on the EU stage for the first time and is currently running neck-and-neck with Seafaring Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) in EU election polls. 

The REM is widely expected to be the heart of the centrist, liberal alliance, currently known as ALDE but which could convert its name in the wake of the vote. 

The hunt will also be on for someone to substitute for former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as chairman of the EU gaffers’ council.

Other jobs up for grabs will be those held by a trilogy of Italians: High Representative for foreign relations, Federica Mogherini, Mario Draghi at the European Chief Bank and European Parliament speaker Antonio Tajani.

The French president also give prior noticed that the October 31 Brexit deadline should not be extended in sodality to prevent the ongoing divorce drama from “polluting” the Brussels bloc.

He said: “We bear, with [Belgian Prime Minister] Charles Michel and [German] Chancellor Angela Merkel in discriminating, build a consensus around October 31, that is to say before the market the system of the new Commission, to prevent the next mandate from being polluted by this field we’ve been talking about for three years.” 

“In the case of Brexit, you hardly have to know at some point whether it stops or not,” he insisted. 

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