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1ST LEAD Dutch EU commissioner announces bid for top job in 2019 By Helen Maguire and Michel Winde, dpa

Europe
10.10.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans announced his bid on Wednesday to run as the Socialist candidate for the commission presidency in next year‘s European elections, a spokesman confirmed.

Under a system of lead candidates introduced during the last EU elections, European parties each select their preferred candidate for the post of commission president, a role held by Jean-Claude Juncker at present.

The nominee of the strongest party has a good chance of being chosen, although EU member states have to agree to the final candidate. The system was introduced to bring more transparency to the elections and increase voter participation.

Timmermans, who is Dutch, is so far up against his colleague Maros Sefcovic, a Slovakian diplomat and commission vice president in charge of energy issues. Nominations close on October 18, with the Socialist group due to choose its lead candidate in December.

EU lawmaker Manfred Weber and former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb are running as lead candidates for the centre-right European People‘s Party, currently the largest group in the European Parliament.

Many predict that populist, anti-EU forces could make strong gains in the May 2019 polls, at a time when the European Union is grappling with issues such as migration, economic challenges and Britain‘s looming departure from the bloc.

The son of a Dutch diplomat, Timmermans speaks seven languages. The 57-year-old grew up in Paris, Brussels and the Dutch town of Heerlen. His studies in the Netherlands and France covered French literature, politics and European law.

He was Dutch foreign minister before joining the EU commission in 2014.

Timmermans has made a name for himself in Brussels by defending the rule of law, notably in an ongoing dispute with Poland over judicial reforms introduced almost three years ago.

His pinned tweet is Article 2 of the EU treaty, citing the basic values of "respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights."

 

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