Brussels, Sept 17 (CTK correspondent) – EC Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, from Slovakia, today confirmed he wants to be the European Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group’s leading candidate in the EU elections and said he has been backed by nine Social Democratic parties and thus met the S&D’s internal conditions.
Sefcovic, 52, together with German Manfred Weber from the European People’s Party (EPP), are the only European politicians to have declared their interest in the post of EC president so far.
Europe’s mainstream groups have decided to use again the practice of “spitzen candidates”, or leading candidates, which they applied in the previous elections in 2014 for the first time.
The European factions are expected to announce who, in their view, should be the next EC head.
The EC head is chosen by the EU summit of the member countries’ presidents and prime ministers, who submit the nomination to the EP for approval.
In 2014, the big groups made it clear to the heads of states and governments that they would support no other candidate in the EP vote than the candidate of the election-winning faction, which was the EPP’s Jean-Claude Juncker.
Sefcovic, who is responsible for the energy union in the EC, said the next decade will decide on Europe’s position in the 21st century. The EU has to cope with issues such as strategic autonomy and industrial modernisation, and must be capable of standing on its own feet much more firmly in terms of trade, defence and foreign policy, he said.
The elections must not focus on migration, only. The EC’s latest steps and proposals will enable voters to view migration as an issue that has been brought under control and poses no danger any more, Sefcovic said.
If citizens start believing that the EU has managed to cope with migration, this would reduce the tension aroused by the issue, he said.
He recalled that it was the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) that proposed him for the S&D’s spitzen candidate and persuaded him to seek the position.
In the meantime, he has won support across Europe, from the Baltic countries via Central to Southeast Europe, and he is also going to address [Socialist and Social Democratic parties in] further countries, he said.
After a joint meeting of the Czech and Slovak government in Kosice, east Slovakia, today, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini supported Sefcovic on behalf of the government coalition.
“We will do our utmost for you to become the candidate for the elections to the European Parliament,” he added.
The S&D group is to start choosing its leading candidate in October and it is to make the final decision at its Lisbon congress in early December.
No other well-known officials from any of the parties represented in the S&D has officially announced their candidacy for the leading candidate, but speculations mention EC first Vice-President Frans Timmermans in this connection.
Jan Zahradil, a Czech MEP elected for the rightist Civic Democrats (ODS), recently mentioned the possibility of his becoming the leading candidate of the Europan Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.