EU prepares for massive power shift as presidency up for grabs

European Parliament is ‘not a punch bag’ says David Sassoli

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On January 17, MEPs will select their next president for a two-and-a-half-year term. While no candidates have been declared, those rumoured to be in the running range from the current Parliament president and a top voice on migration through to an MEP crucial to the EU’s climate change policy.

The current Parliament President David Sassoli is expected to run for a second term and his desire is an open secret within the EU’s legislative body.

Mr Sassoli became President back in 2019 as part of a broader agreement to roll out top EU jobs.

Under his deal, he was expected to stand aside when his term ended so a conservative could take over, Politico reported.

Initially, it was assumed the agreement would hand the presidency to Manfred Weber, the leader of the Parliament’s largest group, the centre-right European People’s Party.

However, Mr Weber recently ruled himself out and instead pursued a role as both head of the EPP group within Parliament and the president of the EPP’s EU-wide umbrella organisation.

As Mr Weber has pulled out, the S&D group has argued the deal is now void, claiming it was contingent on Mr Weber becoming president.

Another name rumoured to be in the running for the presidency is Roberta Metsola, who was first elected to the European Parliament in 2013.

Ms Metsola became one of Malta’s first female MEPs as well as one of the EPP and Parliament’s main voices on migration.

Speaking to the Times of Malt, Ms Metsola did not rule out her candidacy.

She said: “I am speaking to colleagues within the [EPP] group to listen to what they want from the person leading this institution and to discuss the vision for Europe over the next years.”

The EPP is expected to submit its candidate on November 24.

Esther de Lange is also rumoured to be a potential candidate for the upcoming elections.

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The longtime operative for the Dutch Christian Democrat Party, Ms de Lange was elected as an MEP in 2007 and is the most senior person being floated for the presidency.

Ms de Lange is a current member of the Parliament’s environment committee and was involved in drafting the EPP’s climate change position.

Former Spanish senator from Valencia, Esteban González Pons, has long been the EPP group’s second behind Mr Weber.

Mr González Pons was a vocal critic of Brexit and said Britain was “wrong” to leave the EU.

However, Mr González Pons has sent signals he is not seeking the presidency.

According to Politico many Europeans would support ongoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel “taking a leading role” in the EU after she retires from German politics.

According to a survey published by the European Council on Foreign Relations, in a hypothetical race between Mrs Merkel and French leader Emmanuel Macron for the EU presidency.

Up to 41 percent said they would back Ms Merkel over Emmanuel Macron.

But for the present, it seems clear Ms Merkel is looking forward to her semi-retirement.

During her final trip as chancellor to Washington in July Mrs Merkel said she was looking forward to her post-leadership life.

She said she was looking forward to “not having to constantly make decisions.”

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