CSU deputy leader Manfred Weber was elected the new leader of all Christian Democratic parties in Europe that have assembled in the European People’s Party (EPP). Indirectly, he also became the new head of CSU chairman Markus Söder, whose party also belongs to the EPP. Weber was the only candidate. The exact result was not available at the time of going to press.
The 49-year-old succeeds former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. In the future, the man from Lower Bavaria will coordinate the positions between the conservative governments before EU summits and prepare the upcoming European elections in 2024 for the EPP. However, the EPP only has seven out of a total of 27 heads of government.
Weber has been chairman of the conservative majority group in the European Parliament since 2014. With the new office, he is likely to further expand his power on the European stage. He is now definitely the most important politician in the EU Parliament.
In the past, Weber had managed to set important priorities as the leader of 176 parliamentarians from 27 countries. The strengthening of the European border protection authority Frontex is largely due to Weber, who made better protection of the external borders a topic very early on. Against the resistance of former Chancellor Angela Merkel, he also campaigned for the so-called rule of law mechanism, according to which corrupt governments will have to pay back EU funds in the future.
The Europe-wide promotion of innovative vaccines, for example in cancer therapies or corona, is largely due to his co-initiative. However, Weber has been quite reluctant to criticize the EU Commission in the past two years. That is likely to change in the coming years.
Weber’s major topic is currently a reform of the EU, if necessary through changes in the constitution. “We finally have to put the basic architecture of the European decision-making mechanisms to the test,” says the new party leader.
He wants to abolish the unanimity principle for EU decisions so that countries like Hungary can no longer block. But what would apply to foreign policy would probably also apply to financial issues. It is questionable whether this is in Germany’s interest, because it would strengthen the debt-ridden states.
It is unclear what Weber’s future looks like. Does he still want to remain EPP Group leader after ten years? Or will he come back to Germany at some point? Weber himself strictly refuses to comment. Nevertheless, his name is mentioned again and again as a possible successor to Söder, alongside the powerful CSU regional group leader in Berlin, Alexander Dobrindt, and the Bavarian state parliament president Ilse Aigner.
It is now also controversial in its own ranks. In parts of the CSU, the Franconian is accused of having “no overall concept and no strategy” for the future. Whether the Christsozialen will actually go into the state election campaign with Söder in the coming year seems to be still open.