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Manfred Weber

Manfred Weber
Manfred Weber March 2019.jpg
Leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament
Assumed office
4 June 2014
PresidentJoseph Daul
Preceded byJoseph Daul
Member of the European Parliament
for Germany
Assumed office
13 June 2004
Personal details
Born (1972-07-14) 14 July 1972 (age 47)
Landshut, West Germany
(now Germany)
Political partyChristian Social Union
EducationMunich University of Applied Sciences

Manfred Weber (born 14 July 1972) is a German politician who has served as Leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament since 2014. He has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany since 2004. He is a member of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, part of the European People's Party.

In the 2003 Bavarian state elections, Weber became the state's youngest parliamentarian at the age of 29.[1] Currently heading the European People's Party Group, he is the youngest group leader in the current Parliament as well as the youngest-ever group leader of the EPP.[1] Weber is known as a moderate politician and power broker in EU politics.[2]

On 5 September 2018, Weber declared his intention to run for the position of President of the European Commission[3] and was elected as the Spitzenkandidat of the EPP on 8 November.[4] On May 26, 2019, Weber's European People's Party won the most seats in the European Parliament, thus making Weber the lead candidate to become the next President of the European Commission.[5][6] It was announced on May 28 that the new European Commission President would be picked at a EU summit in June; Weber was not nominated, with Ursula von der Leyen selected instead. [7]

Education and early career [8]

  • 1996: Graduate engineer, Munich Higher Technical Institute (now Munich University of Applied Sciences)
  • 1996-2014: Founded own consultancy firm (self-employed)
  • 2002-2004: Member of the Bavarian Parliament(Other)

Political career

Career in state politics

Since 2002, Weber has been a member of the Kelheim Regional Council. From 2002 until 2004, he served as Member of the Landtag of Bavaria.[citation needed]

In 2003, Weber succeeded Markus Söder as chairman of the Junge Union in Bavaria; he served in that position until 2007. In this capacity, he also joined the CSU executive board. In 2008, he succeeded Erwin Huber as chairman of the CSU of Lower Bavaria, one of the party's ten districts.[citation needed]

Member of the European Parliament, 2004–present

Weber served on the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs from 2004 until 2012 and on the Committee on Constitutional Affairs from 2012 until 2014. During that time, he was a substitute for the Committee on Regional Development, a member of the Delegation for relations with India, a substitute for the Delegation for relations with the countries of the Andean Community and a substitute on the Subcommittee on Human Rights. As rapporteur, he negotiated in 2008 for the European Parliament Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (Return Directive), the first Directive in the field of home affairs to be adopted through the ordinary legislative procedure.[9]

After his reelection in 2009 Weber became Vice-Chairman of the European People's Party group in the European Parliament under the leadership of chairman Joseph Daul. In that capacity, he was responsible for setting the political strategy and the policy in the area of Justice and Home affairs.[9]

Weber has been chairing the EPP group since 2014. He has since been a member of the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, first under the leadership of Martin Schulz (2014-2017) and later Antonio Tajani (since 2017). Between 2014 and 2016, Weber was a member of the now defunct G5 group along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Vice President Frans Timmermans, Socialist group leader Gianni Pittella and Martin Schulz, then President of the European Parliament.[10] In early 2017, Weber established the so-called G6, a group of parliamentary leaders including Pittella as well as Guy Verhofstadt of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Syed Kamall of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), Ska Keller of the Greens, and Gabriele Zimmer of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left.[10]

Bid to become President of European Commission

In September 2018, Weber announced his candidacy (Spitzenkandidat) for the post of the President of the European Commission for the 2019 European election.[11] (Under the unofficial Spitzenkandidat system, the leader of the European party that commands the largest coalition in the European Parliament subsequent to an election to the European Parliament is likely to become the European Commission president.[5][6])

Weber's European People's Party won the most seats in the European Parliament in May 2019, thus making him the lead candidate to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission unless the Spitzenkandidat system was abandoned.[5] On May 28, leaders of EU governments tasked European Council President Donald Tusk with leading the negotiations with members of the European Parliament and national leaders to pick a new European Commission President at a EU summit in late June 2019.[7] Tusk hinted that Weber was the "lead candidate."[7]

Role in national politics

In 2015, Bavaria's Minister President Horst Seehofer nominated Weber as one of his deputies in the office of CSU chairman, making him part of the party's leadership. In the negotiations to form a coalition government under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel following the 2017 federal elections, he was part of the working group on European policy, led by Peter Altmaier, Alexander Dobrindt and Achim Post. Merkel and her government also have backed Weber's bid to become President of the European Commission.[12]

Political positions

European integration

On 7 June 2014, Weber dismissed demands by British Prime Minister David Cameron to put the brakes on European integration.[13] Weber stated that "The EU is based on an ever closer union of European peoples. That is set out in the treaties. It is not negotiable for us... We cannot sell the soul of Europe... if we grant every national parliament a veto right, Europe would come to a standstill."[13] However, he supports Cameron's demand that Britain, as a non-euro country, should be empowered to influence eurozone policy decisions. Also, he told The Guardian in early 2015 that the United Kingdom's drive to freeze welfare payments for EU immigrants was justified and set an example for the rest of the union.[14]

In early 2017, Weber held that if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) insisted on debt relief for Greece, it should no longer participate in the bailout, thereby breaking ranks with his political party's official line that the program would end if the IMF pulled out.[15]

Commenting on the UK's vote to leave the European Union, Weber said, “The British people decided to leave this union, so they will not be so comfortable, so safe, not so economically strong. That’s why we will say that it really is a very negative day.”[16]

As chairman of the European People's Party, the biggest party within the EU Parliament, Weber placed a petition to grant free Interrail tickets to all EU citizens on their 18th birthday.[citation needed] These tickets would allow free travel within all of the EU for one month. Motivating reasons mentioned by Weber: "It is about bringing people together. We must arrange for young people to be thrilled by Europe again." However, the idea would have cost the EU taxpayer subsidies of 2.3 billion euros every year, hence the proposal did not find much support.[citation needed]

Conflicts over Hungary

In July 2013, when the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) issued the Tavares Report criticizing the erosion of fundamental rights in Hungary, Weber dismissed it as a politically motivated attack on the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán by leftist parties.[17] However, in September 2018 he approved the Sargentini Report voting to trigger Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union procedure against the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.[18] Nevertheless, as head of the group, he failed in preventing a split in the European People's Party group: 115 of its deputies voted in favour of the move, while 57 voted against, with 28 abstentions and 20 stayed away from voting.[19]

In the run-up of the 2019 European Parliament election, Weber could not stop Orbán from his poster campaign targeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker [20] and billionaire George Soros.[21] Eventually, on 20 March 2019, the EPP suspended the membership of Orban's party Fidesz.[22]

Relations with Russia

In a 2016 letter to Sigmar Gabriel, German economy minister, and Miguel Arias Cañete, EU energy commissioner, Weber criticized the proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, in that it would undermine the EU's foreign and security goals by increasing dependence on Gazprom, Russia's gas export monopoly. Rather than new supplies across the Baltic, Weber called upon the Commission to accelerate its efforts to import more gas across Turkey from the Caspian Sea, and even potentially Iran and Iraq.[23]

Gay conversion therapies

In March 2018, Weber voted against initiatives prohibiting gay conversion therapies, unlike the majority of the European People Party's MEPs.[24] This vote raised the question on whether he is in favour of such practices.

Other activities

References

  1. ^ a b Toby Vogel (20 November 2014), Manfred Weber – calm conciliator European Voice.
  2. ^ Laurens Cerulus (January 6, 2018), Manfred Weber apologizes for ‘final solution’ comment Politico Europe.
  3. ^ de la Baume, Maia; Gray, Andrew (2018-09-05). "Manfred Weber announces run to lead center right in European election". Politico. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  4. ^ Herszenhorn, David M.; de la Baume, Maia (2018-11-08). "Europe's conservatives nominate Manfred Weber for EU top job". Politico. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  5. ^ a b c [www.euronews.com]
  6. ^ a b [www.japantimes.co.jp]
  7. ^ a b c [euobserver.com]
  8. ^ "Manfred Weber". MEPs European Parliament. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  9. ^ a b Speakers at Harvard Kennedy School 2015 European Conference at Harvard, February 27–28, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Maïa de La Baume (February 14, 2017), Germany’s Weber wants a ‘G6’ to push out the populists Politico Europe.
  11. ^ "German conservative Weber announces run for top EU post". The Seattle Times. 2018-09-05. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  12. ^ [www.ft.com]
  13. ^ a b "New head of European conservatives dismisses Cameron's EU demands". June 7, 2014 – via uk.reuters.com.
  14. ^ Ian Traynor (5 January 2016), EU reform: senior German politicians move to support David Cameron The Guardian.
  15. ^ Michelle Martin (26 February 2017), No debt relief for Greece, Germany's deputy finance minister says Reuters.
  16. ^ Angela Merkel rejects one of Theresa May's key Brexit demands The Guardian
  17. ^ R. Daniel Kelemen (June 18, 2015), EPP loves Orbán Politico Europe.
  18. ^ "EP triggers sanctions procedure, Hungary calls 'fraud'". EUobserver.
  19. ^ "Votation of EPP-MEPs to trigger Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union procedure against Hungary" (PDF).
  20. ^ Juncker: Hungary's ruling Fidesz doesn't belong in EPP Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  21. ^ Orbán's campaign against George Soros Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  22. ^ Fidesz membership in EPP suspended but remains in the EPP-group Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  23. ^ Christian Oliver (May 1, 2016), Top German MEP joins foes of controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline Financial Times.
  24. ^ "Situation of fundamental rights in the EU in 2016 - VoteWatch Europe". www.votewatch.eu. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  25. ^ Members Central Committee of German Catholics.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Daul
Leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament
2014–present
Incumbent