BRUSSELS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron declared Friday that three top candidates to become head of the European Union’s powerful executive arm, the European Commission, have been ruled out of the race by the bloc’s leaders, but other leaders weren’t so sure.
Speaking after a summit with his EU counterparts in Brussels, Macron told reporters that “the point was made that it is impossible for these three candidates to be retained.”
Center-right lead candidate Manfred Weber from Germany, center-left pick Dutchman Frans Timmermans and liberal choice Margrethe Vestager of Demark were considered most likely to be named to run the commission, the job currently led by Jean-Claude Juncker.
The three were backed by the European Parliament, but Macron opposes the system that made them favorites and wants someone else at the commission, which proposes EU laws and enforces them, for the next five years. Macron said talks have been launched “so that other names emerge.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, however, said the three should still be up for consideration.
“I think it would be strange to assume that among 500 million Europeans who can become commission president, there would be three who cannot get that job. That is crazy,” Rutte said.
EU leaders failed overnight to narrow down candidates for the EU’s top jobs and will hold a new summit in Brussels on June 30 to finalize the nominations.