EPP Chairman Manfred Weber gave a very powerful speech in Zagreb as well. German Chancellor Angela Merkel symbolically spent some time sitting between Weber and European Commission President-elect Ursula Von der Leyen. Weber, who the rumour mill of Brussels suggested would be taking over a strong Federal ministry in Germany, told the crowd that he, “will continue to work for a strong EPP in a united Europe.” Reflecting on the spitzenkandidat congress, Weber said that in 2024 clear rules are needed to make sure that the EPP can implement the outcome of the European elections in forming the European Commission. “In politics, dear friends, you can see a setback. You can even experience a defeat. But a defeat is only a defeat if afterwards you don’t stand up again. And I, and we; we will stand up again, [and] fight for a democratic Europe, for this perfect ideal [to] let Europe decide for the future.”

Weber’s rollercoaster of political unfairness, for lack of a better characterization, may have not resulted in him becoming President of the European Commission – but it seems that he has become a stronger political thinker, orator, and indeed leader than ever before.