Plenković: My Goal Was for EPP to Get Post of European Commission President

By 21 October 2019

ZAGREB, October 21, 2019 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told the France 24 TV channel that his goal at the time of negotiations on the distribution of key posts in European institutions had been for the European People's Party (EPP), whose negotiator he was, to get the post of European Commission President, which was eventually achieved.

At the end of an EU summit on Friday, Plenković gave two interviews to France 24, one in English for its Talking Europe programme and one in French for its Ici L'Europe programme, which was aired on Saturday and Sunday.

In the interview that was conducted in French, a question was asked in which the interviewer stated that Plenković, too, had been mentioned as a candidate for EC President.

Asked if he regretted the missed opportunity, Plenković said: "No, my candidate was Manfred Weber. I and Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins were negotiators on behalf of the EPP and my goal was for the EPP to get the seat of EC President, which we eventually achieved. There were a lot of rumours but I have been Croatia's prime minister for three years. We are about to take over presidency of the Council of the EU and I have a very big responsibility on the national level," said Plenković.

After the other two political groups in the EP, the Socialists and the Liberals, did not agree that Weber, whose EPP was the relative winner of the elections, should become EC President, the three strongest political groups each determined two negotiators, and Plenković was one of the EPP's. The Socialists and the Liberals were in favour of Dutch Frans Timmermans becoming the new EC President but the EPP and Plenković strongly opposed it. Eventually, Ursula von der Leyen of Germany was nominated for the post.

Plenković was also asked about the candidacy of Dubravka Šuica as EC Vice President-elect for Democracy and Demography, for whom the journalist said that she had barely passed her hearing before the EP.

Plenković said that that was not the case and that Šuica won two-thirds majority support, expressing great satisfaction with von der Leyen's putting Šuica in charge of demography.

Commenting on the EU's decision not to start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, Plenković said that "it was not a very good decision" considering that North Macedonia had had the courage to change its name in the hope that that would help start its EU entry talks, stressing that the EU had missed a rendezvous with its historical responsibility.

As for French President Emmanuel Macron's demand that the EU should reform the enlargement process and become more politically integrated before admitting new members, Plenković said that the debate about whether the EU should be more deepened or more widened had been going on for more than 30 years, stressing that the enlargement process was now stricter than it had been to make sure new members were better prepared for membership.

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