Macron would back Angela Merkel as European Commission president

The German chancellor has repeatedly denied any intention to continue in politics, but talk of her leading the Commission persists. France's president has now given his backing for Angela Merkel to take over in the role.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he would support German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the new President of the European Commission.

Macron told Swiss broadcaster RTS on Tuesday that while he could not speak for her, he would support her in any bid to become president of the executive branch of the European Union.

Europe needs "new faces" and strength, he said.

Merkel has repeatedly declared her intention to leave politics at the end of her term as German chancellor, but talk of her taking over the top job at the Commission has persisted.

Read more: France, Germany spar over EU leadership

European Elections 2019: Candidates for the top EU job

Manfred Weber (EPP)

The center-right European People's Party (EPP) — the largest faction in the European Parliament — has picked Manfred Weber, its German parliamentary party leader. He has the backing of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Though considered the front-runner, Weber is little known on the international stage, and his language skills are considered poor.

European Elections 2019: Candidates for the top EU job

Frans Timmermans (S&D)

Frans Timmermans, the European Commission's first vice president, will lead the campaign for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats (S&D). Weber's main rival promises to bring the bloc closer to ordinary voters at a time when Britain's looming exit is one factor behind the nationalist movements across the EU.

European Elections 2019: Candidates for the top EU job

Jan Zahradil (ECR)

The third-largest group in the EU Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), has just one candidate: Jan Zahradil, chairman of the Czech ECR delegation. Zahradil, 65, is affectionately known as "Forrest Gump" for cycling from Prague to Strasbourg for a session of the European Parliament and for once running 1,300 kilometers (about 800 miles) across the Czech Republic for charity.

European Elections 2019: Candidates for the top EU job

Margrethe Vestager (ALDE)

Margrethe Vestager, 51, is one of seven lead candidates for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats. As the current EU commissioner for competition, the Danish MEP has taken on corporations like Apple, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet. It's also been said that she served as the inspiration for the main character in Borgen, a Danish series where a woman becomes Denmark's first female leader.

European Elections 2019: Candidates for the top EU job

Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA)

The Greens/EFA is the seventh largest group in European Parliament, so the Dutchman is a long shot to become European Commission president. The 42-year-old MEP, who along with Germany's Ska Keller is representing the group, said he joined the race to "make sure the Green vision is being heard." He has championed a move to cap palm oil use by 2023, then reduce it to zero by 2030.

European Elections 2019: Candidates for the top EU job

Violeta Tomic (GUE/NGL)

The EU's left-wing groups will be headed by Belgian trade unionist Nico Cue and Violeta Tomic (at left). Tomic is a deputy in Slovenia's National Assembly, best known as a TV presenter and actress. She entered into politics in 2014 and has been an advocate for LGBT rights and stronger citizens' rights in Europe.

Current President Jean-Claude Juncker's term is coming to an end and speculation over who will take over the reins is mounting.

The leading candidate is Germany's Manfred Weber, head of the biggest bloc in the European Parliament — the European People's Party.

In the French-language RTS interview, Macron repeated his objections to Weber taking over the role, saying he is unknown to voters and that he has not campaigned throughout Europe.

"Europe needs faces, strong personalities, people who have personal credibility and the skills to fill the positions they hold," he said.

Earlier this month, Weber was re-elected as leader of the center-right EPP through a near-unanimous vote.

To replace Juncker, he still needs the backing of at least two more parliamentary groups.

The leadership issue will likely dominate the June 20-21 EU summit.

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