The group president of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber, has ended his bid to become president of the European Commission after the leaders of the EU moved to abandon the lead candidate, or Spitzenkandidaten, system.

During the EPP Group meeting, Weber announced to his colleagues that he is giving up his mandate as the lead candidate of the EPP, saying, “My journey started here last September as a lead candidate, here it ends,” adding, “I will continue to fight for a democratic Europe. It was an honour for me to take on this task for the EPP and for Europe.”

The bureau heads of the national delegations for the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament issued a statement following their meeting to discuss nominating Germany’s defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, to take over for Jean-Claude Juncker, the incumbent president of the Commission.

The leader of the S&D Group Iratxe García said von der Leyen’s would be a “deep disappointment” for the S&D. “Our group has remained firm in the defence of European democracy and the Spitzenkandidat process. We don’t want it to die.”

  1. The Spitzenkandidaten process refers to the first candidate on an electoral list who is often the leader of the respective political party or the person designated to lead the government in the event of the party winning the election. That person is called the Spitzenkandidat, or “lead candidate” in German.
    In 2014, the major groups represented in the European Parliament and the European Council agreed to apply this process to determine the next President of the European Commission, as a way of the Council “taking account of the results of the European Parliament election” as required by the Union treaties. This led to the appointment and confirmation of Juncker as the Commission president.