Jyrki Katainen – one of the stronger contenders for the Spitzen candidate nomination of the European People’s Party (EPP) is officially out of the race, in a decision that shows the importance he places on his family. Though Katainen was seen by many as the front runner, has pulled out despite his high chances of success. The announcement saw many in the Michel Barnier, and Manfred Weber camps smiling cheekily and plotting the next moves before everyone in off for summer holidays.

Barnier, a very sharp and calculating man is putting his ducks in a row, but many question whether he can achieve the support of Emmanuel Macron despite coming from a different political family. Macron is expected to in one way or another take over the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), and Barnier’s EPP roots are unquestionable, but politics is about flexibility. The Barnier family seems to be well positioned to create a bridge, more so that his son, Nicolas Barnier, is working alongside Grégory Besson-Moreau, an MP elected with En Marche in France.

Meanwhile, Enda Kenny, remains in waiting, in case the EPP needs someone they can (more easily) all agree on. And somewhere in the shadows, believers for an ever stronger Europe hope that Angela Merkel will take the opportunity and step up and become the first sitting head of state to move forward to guide more than just their country.