Europe News

France's Macron wants 'charismatic' men and women for top EU jobs

French President Emmanuel Macron holds a news conference after a European Union leaders summit following the EU elections, in Brussels, Belgium May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he wanted two women and two men with strong personalities to lead the European Union in the next five years, although he refused to name his favorite candidates at this stage.

“The key for me is for the people at the most sensitive positions to share our project and be the most charismatic, creative and competent possible,” Macron told reporters after an informal dinner of EU leaders in Brussels.

“I’m not part of those who... want leaders of the European Commission or the European Council who don’t overshadow national leaders,” he said.

“It is important for me to have gender balance, that we name two men and two women,” he added. “I want to unite. If everyone remains stuck on names as they are, we’ll be blocked.”

Macron and Angela Merkel are at odds over who should be the next chief of the European Commission, with the German Chancellor supporting a German national of her own party, European lawmaker Manfred Weber.

French officials said Weber’s lack of political experience at a top EU or national job was a problem, as well as the fact he cannot speak French.

They said Macron was not necessarily pushing for a French national to get a top job - despite Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier being often touted as a possible candidate - but that speaking French was an important requirement to reflect Europe’s language diversity.

“Barnier is not necessarily the candidate anointed by France,” a French official said. “We’re not intent on nominating a Frenchman. But they have to be a French speaker and francophile.”

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Chang and Grant McCool